For all the talk about Consumer Driven Health Care, the first step must be for the Consumer to want to take the wheel.
Unfortunately, it seems that many of us never got the memo:
“The [Great-West Healthcare] 2006 survey shows one in four consumers has set aside no money to pay for health care expenses, while only 39 percent have saved more than $1,000 and just 28 percent more than $2,000...Additionally, only 5 percent have used online cost or quality comparison tools, and just as few people associate the concept of responsibility with CDHPs [Consumer Driven Health Plans]."
In other words, of the 1,000 working adults (ages 18 to 64 – thus excluding Sir Paul), most have just not bought into the notion that there must be some personal responsibility for the cost of our care. Compared with a similar survey done last year, the researchers found that these folks are a little better at guesstimating the cost of health care, but are generally unaware of the real cost of it.
Apparently, less than 1 in 5 of this year’s participants claimed that they had learned the cost of medical treatment either before or at the time of treatment. This is disheartening, because it represents a 5% drop from last year, down from 22% in 2005.
Some of that, of course, rests with providers and insurers: if there is to be cost awareness, then consumers must have tools available to enlighten themselves. Thus, transparency rears its head. True, more carriers are buying into the idea, and at least going through the motions of providing access to this information. But until this is seamless and ubiquitous, I suspect that next year's survey will echo this one.
Also discouraging is the news that less than 2/3 of those surveyed believe that they can improve their own health, and thus mitigate costs, by adopting a healthier lifestyle. I’m not sure why that’s the case: we’re bombarded with that message 24/7: in print, on TV and radio, and of course here on the InterWeb.
Food for thought.