The Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) is a coalition of 120 companies in eight midwestern states that is concerned about slowing the rate of increase in health care costs. Although a number of business coalitions have been formed to influence the costs of health care services in a single state or urban area, the MBGH is the only organization serving an entire region. Its staff serves as a technical resource for member companies throughout the region. Its agenda is a careful blend of policy development and research and technical assistance for local action-oriented projects.
In 1979 the Washington Business Group on Health did a feasibility study on whether to open a Chicago office. Instead, the companies headquartered in the area decided to start an independent organization. The MBGH began in February 1980 with only 15 charter members and grew steadily to its current 120 member companies, which provide health benefits to over 3 million people. These employees and their dependents make up more than 5 percent of the population in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Members are both single- and multiple-site companies and include many of the large corporations operating in the Midwest. Both Deere and Company and Caterpillar Tractor Company, whose activities in health care cost management are described elsewhere in this report, are members of the coalition. The MBGH encourages the development of local chapters that can coordinate projects among area members. Specific projects are usually initiated either by individual members or by the local chapters. Thus far there are chapters in Chicago, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, and Rockford, Illinois.
The primary thrust of the MBGH is to motivate and assist corporations to develop and implement health cost management tools. It emphasizes those projects that will have the greatest potential payoff for its members. The four project areas in which it has been most