Ford's Gilmour: Health care costs give import-brand automakers a huge advantage.
Ford says health care adds about $1,000 to the sticker price of each vehicle it sells in the United States.
Gilmour said automakers not based in the United States have younger employees, fewer retirees and different systems for paying for health care. The United States must learn from those systems, Gilmour said.
Health care costs have created a "competitive gap that if left unchecked will drive investment decisions away from the United States," he said.
Gilmour did not call for a national health care system. He asked governors to help create "a broad-based coalition to find a solution for the long term, not a quick fix."
He spoke at the National Governors Association annual meeting in Seattle.
Gilmour said the United States also must provide better care per dollar. The United States spends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on health care than any other western country, he said, but the quality of care in the United States ranks below that of other nations that spend far less.
"We have insufficient incentives to manage or control our care," he said. "All too often we can consume the care we want, when we want it and even whether or not it is medically necessary.
"On the other side of the coin, there is little emphasis on prevention. Why do most health care plans pay when people get sick but do not pay to keep them well?"
If the system is not fixed, he said, "It can both hurt our economy and limit good health care for everyone."