The Healthcare Consumer is Like a Bad Diet

by Cathy Miller on April 29, 2014

in Health Insurance

3D rendering of a weight scale with the word helpThe term healthcare consumer has always been a bit of an oxymoron.

Health reform is supposed to transform us into better consumers.

But isn’t over-consumption part of the problem?

The healthcare consumer concept is like a bad diet.

  • First you consume too much
  • Then you starve yourself in hope of some miracle

Healthcare Consumer Oxymoron

Today’s healthcare consumer is the child who won’t leave home.

Employers spoiled us by shielding the true cost of our health benefits.

Then when times got tough, like a parent with a 20-something child, employers revealed the real-world cost.

Kicked from the nest of $10 copayments and claim-free filing, we were thrust into the land of high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.

How we survive depends on us.

Growing Up or Out

Just like the child who moves into her first home, the new healthcare consumer needs to decide how to spend her money.

  • Does she invest for the future?
  • Or live in the here and now?

Will the new healthcare consumer delay care like the starving worker waiting for the next paycheck?

Reality is many of us are simply not that good at this role, as illustrated below by the low use of available online tools.

 

Healthcare tools

 

Online Healthcare Tools

We are in this together. The following are online resources and tools to help you make informed health care decisions.

Provider Information

  • Healthgrades - Physician, hospital look-up – includes background and reviews and has app for iPhones
  • The Joint Commission - Quality Check shares a quality report for healthcare organizations
  • Medicare.gov Hospital Compare - Compare hospital quality from Medicare databases
  • Medicare.gov Physician Compare – This is the physician version. There are also comparisons for nursing homes, home health care, and dialysis facilities
  • Leapfrog Group – employer-based site but individuals can compare hospitals here
  • Consumer reports - requires subscription
  • Hospital websites – check your hospital’s website – many have started including quality of care data

Quality of Care Information

Pricing Comparisons

  • Healthcare Bluebook – the site uses your computer’s location or you can enter a zip code to check costs for health care services
  • New Choice Health – it’s a free service but you do need to sign up
  • Insurers – check your insurer’s website – many of them contain procedure costs online

May the force be with you.

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Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs. Visit my business blog, Simply stated business.

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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care provider and cannot provide legal or health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and visit your physician for health care issues.

BigStock Photo Credit

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frederick Pilot April 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Excellent post, Cathy. Regarding health care as a consumer commodity of procedures is certainly contradictory to the notion of reducing utilization and may in fact drive the trend health plan costs, comprised of the cost of procedures times utilization frequency, leading to higher premiums. The focus should be on avoiding utilization, not turning it into a medical marketplace.

Fortunately most people tend toward health and don’t require expensive procedures (and won’t if they lead healthy lifestyles, even as they age). Also, people don’t plan on needing medical procedures as they are typically unexpected whereas planning for a new kitchen or home remodeling project is by nature a planned expenditure that unlike health care lends itself to shopping contractors and materials costs.

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Cathy Miller April 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Hi Fred. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful input. I would say the focus should be on the right kind of utilization from a total health perspective. That certainly should lead to a reduction in higher cost utilization (as you suggest with a healthy lifestyle). I have had first-hand experience with that. Knock on wood. ;-)
Cathy Miller´s last blog post ..The Healthcare Consumer is Like a Bad DietMy Profile

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Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. April 30, 2014 at 5:28 am

Part of the problem (a big part) is that most of these sites are not well organized. Add to that the general histrionics of the web and deliberate misinformation that is characterized as “help”, and it’s not surprising.

What we need now is a “Consumer’s Union” for healthcare information. A non-partisan, non-biased advisor to let the “average Joe” and the “average Jane” know upon what they can rely and what they should avoid.
Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.´s last blog post ..And, a child shall lead them…My Profile

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Cathy Miller April 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

There are more than a few who market their sites as unbiased, Roy. The few I’ve encountered don’t appear that way. Of course, that could be my own bias. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by, Roy.
Cathy Miller´s last blog post ..The Healthcare Consumer is Like a Bad DietMy Profile

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