Inequality is a problem for everyone -- for business, for the health of the democracy and for society at large. Our free-enterprise system is the driver of income and wealth. Business leaders don't have to wait for government solutions to the inequality problem. They have the tools at hand -- they just need the courage to step away from the pack and use them.
One way for Aetna to satisfy Wall Street was to begin shifting more and more of the cost of health care -- and health insurance -- to their customers. That meant that sick policyholders in particular would be paying more out of their own pocket for their care. Our marketing folks came up with an almost Orwellian name for this cost shifting: "consumer-driven health care."
Among those who apparently have not yet benefited much at all, at least so far, are owners of small businesses who would like to keep offering coverage to their employees but can no longer afford it. They can't afford it because insurers keep jacking their rates up so high every year that more and more of them are dropping employee health benefits altogether.
The insular and well-heeled world of American asbestos litigation is gathering atop San Francisco's Nob Hill this week for what amounts to an annual current-events snapshot, and this year things may get a bit testy in the industry triangle of plaintiff attorneys, defense firms and insurance companies.