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Intel chief economist gives advice on health care

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Intel Corp.’s chief economist had lessons Friday for members of the medical community in navigating today’s health care challenges

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Dr. Jack Yu, who works in GRU's Surgery Department, asks a question during Thomas' discussion Friday.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Dr. Jack Yu, who works in GRU's Surgery Department, asks a question during Thomas' discussion Friday.

Dr. Paul Thomas told an audience at Georgia Regents University’s health sciences campus that he sees government-mandated insurance and group-insurance policies as a solution to keep the health insurance market from unraveling.

“The main worry about market mechanisms in health care is that the outcomes won’t be fair, and that’s definitely possible,” he said. “Do you think the status
quo is fair right now? It doesn’t seem fair to a lot of people.”

Thomas also discussed the global economy, which he said is expected to gradually improve in 2014. Economists are proceeding with caution, he said.

“Until the middle of last year, people had pretty high expectations for 2013,” said Thomas, but the forecast now calls for only “mediocre” growth. “We’re all starting to sort of worry about whether we’re stuck in some longer-term growth funk.”

A big economic challenge faced by Americans, Thomas said, is an aging population, similar to what Japan has experienced, which spiked government spending and affected the workforce.

About 200,000 U.S. baby boomers are retiring every month, Thomas said.

Many economists are in favor of increasing immigration to keep the population youthful, boost the workforce and create more opportunity for innovation, Thomas said.

The 2008 recession altered financial expectations throughout the world and changed the way companies do business with one another, Thomas said.

“Now, we’re still trying to put the pieces together,” he said. “Hump­ty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, and we’re trying to rebuild it.”


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