A recent article in Kaiser Health News deserves some attention. The article compares the cost of purely cosmetic breast implants to the cost of those used in reconstructive surgical procedures, which can be twice the cost (or more) for the very same implants.
I have often used the cost of Lasik surgery in my comments on connecting payers and patients to the cost but this one is a far better indication of the power of the consumer. True, there is a much lower stress level for a purely cosmetic implant as compared with the process one undergoes following a dramatic medical procedure – but still, this is another great example of what’s wrong with our healthcare system.
I can give you another… I purchased prescription sunglasses this week. I have a vision plan, so the provider was happy to show me how much I saved as a result of the insurance coverage. But the glasses still cost $250 after the insurance company paid the first $200. I had asked for a discount on the remaining cost and the provider turned me down. I bought them anyway, but later I went to a big box store and found the same prescription sunglasses (without a vision plan) for just $275. By shopping around I would have saved significantly.
We need the consumer as an active influence in the healthcare system. Right now, healthcare inflation is lower than it has been for many years. Patients are starting to understand that cost advocacy is important. We need to keep up that focus.