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It pays to be savvy and active in your healthcare

As business leaders struggle with the cost of healthcare, “healthcare consumerism” as a term is gaining traction. High deductible health plans (HDHP) are being rebranded “consumer-driven health plans”. Conceptually, the idea puts more financial responsibility on the patient with hopes that the patient will then make consumer-like decisions that work for them (financially, medically). The problem lies in access to consumer information. 

Imagine being asked to apply for a car loan without knowing how much the car costs or what future interest rates are! Patients are frequently put in that position relative to health-related decisions and how insurance pays (or does not pay) for services. While transparency is a challenge, patients can take a more active role. Top-performing employers are raising the bar with employee education and training. 

Here are a few tips on how to move from passenger to driver down the healthcare path:

  • Many parts of healthcare have become transactional. Savvy healthcare consumers desire a relational interaction with their healthcare provider. If the recommendation by the physician is a change in diet, exercise, or other natural remedies that may require a change, savvy consumers take responsibility and act rather than expect a prescription, referral to a specialist, or treatment.
  • Savvy healthcare consumers slow down the decision-making process, ask questions and seek the full breadth of alternatives before making significant decisions. Resources like “5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Any Test, Treatment, or Procedure” are great tools to bring to an office visit.
    (www.ChoosingWisely.org)
  • Savvy healthcare consumers take the time to understand their health
    insurance plan design.
    They are confident explaining terms like copay vs coinsurance; deductible vs out-of-pocket max (OOP); HSA vs FSA vs HRA.

The healthcare industry has a long way to go to improve transparency so we, as patients, can be active consumers. The opportunity even in the face of limited transparency is to control what we can by optimizing the tools and resources effectively to provide clarity and a roadmap to optimal health.

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Eric Hannah is the president and chief catalyst at Mode Health. Mode Health provides agile employee benefits for the modern small business by focusing on health literacy and healthcare navigation first, insurance second.  Reach him at  (517) 899-3404.

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