If one would judge by the rhetoric and lip-service coming from the healthcare industry, all is fine and getting better. The reality, however, is the healthcare landscape has changed significantly in a very short period of time and not for the betterment of the patient or consumer. Healthcare consumers and patients are finding themselves virtually captive. Healthcare consumers are asked to do more, pay more and receive less value for each dollar spent. While healthcare consumerism receives much media attention, the reality is healthcare providers and payers are very content with the status quo.
In market based businesses, consumers require pricing information and a means to determine the quality of goods or service they’re receiving. In other complicated industries involving high consumer volume, like financial services, travel, retailing or automobiles, the government regulates the quality aspect and commercial enterprises provide pricing transparency. Healthcare is void of both. Providers nor payers have any intention of relinquishing the control. Making it easy for the consumer to navigate the maze is counter productive to the current business model The lack of transparency isn’t unintentional, therefore, creating transparency must be intentional.
What’s the big secret? Why does pricing need to be so convuloted? Pricing transparency is a hot topic. Industry insiders will argue against pricing transparency because they claim it’s to complicated for consumers to understand. Payers guard pricing like Coke protects the soda formulas. Compare trying to find a price for a healthcare service to any other consumer good or service!!! Take a look at a hospital bill to really see the insanity. There will be a laundry list of incomprehensible items followed by individual pricing that will sum to a very large total followed by a relatively large discount resulting in what someone is expected to pay. This is an artifact of the Byzantine health insurance world when patients had little to no financial exposure to paying for healthcare services. Even though the marketplace has dramatically changed, incumbents have chosen not to. States and the Federal government have done very little to help the healthcare consumer. It’s laughable compared to other industries.
I believe we are healthcare prisoners in a virtual prison. The following will explain what I mean.
Let’s define a healthcare consumer/patient, healthcare prisoner, and a virtual healthcare prison.
First a healthcare Consumer/Patient: Simple……Any person wanting to protect themselves from a catastrophic healthcare event or anyone who requires medical care.
Second, let’s define a Healthcare Prisoner
A Healthcare prisoner is a person buying health insurance or obtaining medical care.
Third, let’s define the Virtual Healthcare Economic Prison.
With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Act, effectively all Americans have been granted access to the healthcare economic prison. It’s now only a question of what degree. A Virtual Healthcare Economic Prison is any organization that extracts financial resources from patients/consumers or provides healthcare services to patients/consumers. These Virtual Prisons are…. the government (social security tax/Medicare/Medicaid), employers (health benefit premiums/workers compensation), insurance companies (protection depositories), hospitals, big pharma or other allied healthcare providers just to name a few. They are prisons because our healthcare choices are dictated by these entities through unknowable contractual terms. These relationships are almost entirely based upon financial arrangements. They protect us as long as we are cooperative and meet our financial commitments and follow the rules.
Studies show in 2017, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health insurance coverage for a family of four cost an employer approximately $27,000. The employees share was approximately $12,000. On the health exchanges the average cost for a family of four without subsidies was approximately $21,000. (No telling how comparative the policies might be.) Several studies have shown consumers over-purchase health insurance by 24%. The value of services received for this payment is highly dependent upon a well-informed consumer/patient. Transparency will arrive when it is an expectation of the consumer/patient.
WE ARE ALL EXPEREINCING BEING A HEALTHCARE PRISONER OR IN A HEALTHCARE PRISON
I realize some will disagree. Some will agree. I know for sure the healthcare consumer will agree. We have spoken to many of them. The consumer is the only one that counts.
Let us know what you think….