Tuesday, April 17, 2007


As regular IB readers know, we are major advocates of consumer-centric health care (which is not without its own flaws, of course). One of the reasons for this is accountability by, and transparency of cost for, health care providers. It's also because we're convinced that health insurance carriers could do a (significantly) better job at educating and serving their customers.
Seems that we're not alone:
So exhorts Annemarie Earley, managing vice president for research giant Gartner, Inc. Her advice is in response to a recent study, done by Gartner [sorry, paid link], completed this past February. Moreover, according to Ms Earley, carriers in both North America and Western Europe must move more rapidly in that direction, despite (maybe because of) the fact that consumers today are more internet-savvy, and motivated to learn more about their health care, and how much it really costs.
She also warns that "consumer centric" health care and insurance will require substantial infrastructure changes, and may entail a certain amount of disruption as the system, and the market, adjust to the new paradigm.
As if to underscore this last point, the National Business Group on Health has called for Congressional action to simplify alternative funding mechanisms that are at the heart of CDHC. They'd like to see the whole alphabet-soup (HSA, HRA, FSA, etc) pooled together into a single “401-H” system that would give employees incentives to save for post-retirement health care needs.
As I noted in this week's Insurance Dispatch, employees generally are satisfied with their health insurance coverage, and have no desire to cut back on it in order to save more for retirement. This bodes ill for future retirees, who may have a smaller nest-egg than they imagine.
It's not clear how, exactly, this might work. But it's good to see folks shaking up the system a bit, and searching for answers that don't necessarily require massive new government programs.
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