The term “healthcare consumerism” is still relatively new, because it’s a relatively new idea. For years and years we’ve viewed healthcare as being out of our control and only getting worse. We were partially right – it is getting worse. That’s why most people have turned to “high-deductible” plans (more on that here). Whether its through your employer’s plan, something you’ve purchased independently or even a plan that you’ve gotten through Obamacare Chances are, it’s deemed as “high deductible”. The idea is that we’re going to increase your financial risk (might have to hit that high payout [deductible] or you may not), but you’re going to be able to keep more money in your pocket now, and have to decide how you’re going to spend it.
Good or bad, we’re here to tell you about healthcare consumerism. Let’s take a look…
Healthcare Consumerism Gives You the Control
Sort of. You’ve got more money in your pocket today. If you’re lucky enough to not go to the doctor very much this year, you will keep more money for yourself. However, if something does pop up, you’re going to pay out more. This isn’t necessarily all bad though. It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to spend your money and who you’re going to pay to treat you. This requires more active research and attention though.
Healthcare is an Industry
Just like cars, cell phones or real estate – healthcare is an industry designed to provide a service in exchange for money. Most people think of healthcare as a service that isn’t tied to finances or profit. And a lot of services aren’t necessarily billed to you, but they are billed. It’s important to acknowledge this so that we can respond accordingly, with consumerism. These “companies” (healthcare and insurance providers) have to provide you with customer service, and if they aren’t very good then you should look to another company. But unfortunately this often isn’t the case. Check out this article on healthcare consumerism myths.
People Are Starting to Look Elsewhere
Before you make a big purchase you normally research it online first. The same is true for healthcare. There are a number of cost comparison websites that you can use to help you assess traditional healthcare services (similar to finding a shop to work on your car) and understand the healthcare cost. But there’s also a lot of online resources that you can use to actually get your ailments treated. Something like telehealth (reasons to use telehealth or telehealth platform comparison page) really reduces costs and provides you with the same service, just easier to access. Why do they do this? Because they are consumers, and this is a quality product, for less money.
Being a “Healthcare Consumer” is the Same as Being a “Consumer”
It’s up to you to make your own decisions. Most people place this power in their doctors hands. But would you do this with your mechanic? The problem lies here – you’re a patient, and you’re also a consumer. Doctors will still prescribe medications regardless of what the pharmacy charges. It’s a backwards yet symbiotic relationship. It’s often said that when the care isn’t life threatening, people tend to place significant emphasis on cost. Yet when a more serious ailment threatens one’s life, cost sensitivity goes out the window. Its an understandable worry, but higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean better care. A very important distinction.
As healthcare consumers, its our responsibility to understand what we’re paying for and why we’re paying for it. We place a lot of trust in our doctors, but there is also a lot of technology at our disposal designed to help us make decisions. Consumerism is defined as “a movement for the protection of the consumer against useless, inferior or dangerous products, misleading advertising or unfair pricing”. Does that sound like the way you approach healthcare?