Health and wealth. Two terms that were not so synonymous in prior generations.
But today, Americans are facing a healthcare affordability crisis both at home and at work. Recently, a few iconic companies have declared they’ve reached their tipping point on paying for healthcare for their employees. And the list is growing.
It started with Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway in January 2018. Then Disney rang the bell in Florida. Now Walmart and several others have joined in. In fact, Walmart—one of the most efficient organizations in history in terms of managing costs without compromising quality—are making a bid to buy Humana.
If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.
Though no one knows for sure, it is not out of the question to suggest that Amazon and Walmart could become two of the largest providers of commercial health insurance within the next five years. Or, that might not happen at all. But it is certainly an exciting proposition for those seeking alternatives to the current high-cost insurers.
What makes these corporate declarations particularly striking is that American families have been attempting to declare their tipping point on healthcare affordability for years with little success. Hospitals and insurers have ignored families’ plea for help. Healthcare lobbies are among the nation’s strongest, so little relief has been provided. Capitalism reigns.
With the American family powerless to drive change, corporate America has come to the rescue. And despite their attempts to publicly brush off the movement, hospitals and insurers are taking notice.
Ironic, isn’t it, when a hospital pays for an advertisement with an emotional appeal to the community seeking donations for a new building or facility, yet when community members seek care at that same hospital, they are often unable to afford it?
This is the same hospital that will refuse to post its prices, even when asked directly. What other business in America requires you to commit to and receive services without knowing the price in advance? Further, what other business in America provides its customers so little recourse for negotiation or questioning the quality of service after the fact?
Current statistics show that less than 20 percent of hospitals in America post prices publicly. In the rare case that hospitals do share prices in advance, it is inevitably with a disclaimer stating that prices cannot but guaranteed and actual charges will be based on the specific items that doctors and hospital staff code during the procedure.
Translation: “These prices will change, and there’s nothing you can do.”
As hospitals begin to feel the pressure as a result of corporate advocacy on affordability issues, individuals and families can do their part by engaging in the healthcare process. Engaged Healthcare Consumers (EHCs) understand how to find significant savings both for themselves and their employers.
So how do you become an EHC?
Start by focusing on the 3 P’s: Have a Plan that focuses on Preventative care, as well as Personalized care.
Simple enough, but what does that look like in practice? Have a DNA test done to better understand which medications work best for your body, and identify high-cost drugs you might be consuming unnecessarily. Utilize technology, from Fitbits to Apple’s new Health app that allows you access to your personal health record on your phone. Seek out specialized disease-specific programs to better manage chronic diseases a family member may have. Practice local medical tourism by seeking out Centers of Excellence for all procedures.
To date there has been little evidence suggesting any link between price and quality in healthcare. In fact, those doctors who engage in the discussion about fair pricing often receive higher quality scores than their high-cost counterparts. These doctors and facilities that offer affordable pricing and higher quality are known as Centers of Excellence, often referred to as within the narrow network.
With corporate America stepping up to lead the charge against hyperinflation in American healthcare, it is crucial that individuals and families do their part to join the effort by becoming Engaged Healthcare Consumers.
Original article link is available here.