Following the recent midterm elections, the exit polling done by all of the major networks confirmed the top concern among Americans is healthcare. Now, we don’t know exactly how the polling questions were phrased or whether the pollsters targeted certain demographics. These factors can sway the results toward the outcome hoped for by the polling institution.
We also don’t know specifically what voters’ concerns are: the cost of healthcare, access to care, the complexity of seeking correct and appropriate care. The pollsters didn’t dig that deep. I’m going to assume it’s all of the above. And Americans should be concerned.
According to the Wall Street Journal, middle class families’ spending on healthcare has increased 25% just since 2007. A RAND Corporation study reported that take-home wages have stagnated in the last 20 years due in part to healthcare cost increases. Every time workers get a raise, they end up spending the additional income either on higher premiums taken out of their pay, or higher costs when they need to seek care. Or both.
And it’s no secret that information necessary for all of us to be good consumers of healthcare is hidden from us or simply not available. Let me ask you… if you were told you needed a cardiac stent, where would you turn to find out which cardiac surgeons are the best, which facilities have the best track record for outcomes, which have the fewest disciplinary or legal actions against them? What about treatment options and alternatives? And what about cost?
Technology has created transparency unforeseen by past generations. But no industry has been more successful at hindering technological progress than U.S. healthcare. Whether we like it or not, we must – finally – hold the healthcare industry accountable for ever-increasing costs. It’s easier to point the finger of blame at insurance companies, who are maligned in the press as dirty, rotten, greedy profiteers. But healthcare in America, delivered largely by corporate health systems, has the largest share of blame.
We at Frenkel Benefits are engaging with health advocates and guides to help you navigate the healthcare landscape and get the right treatment from the right provider at the right time. You can also find some answers using these services:
- www.fairhealthconsumer.org – Provides information on costs for thousands of healthcare procedures.
- www.leapfroggroup.org – Provides ratings for hospitals, outpatient and ambulatory surgery facilities.
- www.healthcarebluebook.com – Provides data to help make informed decisions about your healthcare.
Until the right tools are readily available to all consumers of healthcare, we must take matters into our own hands. It’s a first step in the right direction.