America’s New Normal in Health: Paying Attention and Responding To Costs

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Posted 10/10/11 on Health Populi

The passage of health reform in the U.S. has not enhanced peoples’ confidence in the American health system. In fact, U.S. health consumers’ high confidence level in the future of employer-sponsored health benefits has eroded over the past ten years, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute‘s (EBRI) 2011 Health Confidence Survey: Most Americans Unfamiliar with Key Aspect of Health Reform. Most people are dissatisfied with the U.S. health system overall, with 27% of U.S. adults rating the system as “poor” and 29% giving a rating of “fair.” High costs may be at the root of peoples’ dissatisfaction with the U.S. health system. Only 18% of people are satisfied with the cost of health insurance; only 15% satisfied with the cost of health services not covered by insurance. EBRI looked into peoples’ health-consumer behaviors, detailed in the chart. Most people who have visited doctors ask them to explain why a test is needed, as well as inquire about risks of treatments and medications and their success rates. Nearly one-half of people ask about less costly treatment options often or always. Consumers also adjust their health care utilization when facing higher health care costs:

  • 74% of U.S. adults try to take better care of themselves
  • 69% choose generic drugs when available
  • 64% talk to the doctor more carefully about treatment options and costs
  • 59% go to the doctor only for more serious conditions or symptoms
  • 44% delay going to the doctor
  • 36% switch to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
  • 34% look for cheaper health insurance
  • 31% look for cheaper health providers
  • 25% skip medication doses or don’t fill prescriptions.

Continue reading “America’s New Normal in Health: Paying Attention and Responding To Costs”

The Edelman Health Barometer: Health Care is a Team Sport

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 10/06/11 on Health Populi

Lifestyle, nutrition, the environment and the health system are four key factors that people globally say have the most impact on their health. Underlying these influences, its friends and family who most shape our health, followed by government and business.

Welcome to the 2011 Edelman Health Barometer, the third year the communications firm has polled health citizens around the world on their views on health, behavior change, and the use of information and digital tools.

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Note to Consumers: the Rules in Health Care are a Little Different

Wendy Lynch

First posted 9/28/11 on the HHCF Blog

Let’s say you’ve invented a new product. Before you can sell it, you need to figure out its price such that you maximize revenue without pricing it higher than your customers will pay.  If it costs more than similar products, you’ll need to figure out how to convince people to pay more for your product than they might elsewhere.  This is how healthy, rational consumer markets work, promoting innovation that balances cost and quality. To contrast, now imagine you’ve invented a new product in healthcare. Guess what?  You get to set the price without worrying what cost consumers will tolerate because they won’t be paying for it directly, and it doesn’t need to reflect how well the product works!

Why Advocate For Consumer Choice in Health Care?

Wendy Lynch

First posted 9/27/11 on the Altarum Institute Health Policy Forum

There is no shortage of important topics in health care; the U.S. faces thousands of challenges, from the prevalence of childhood obesity and hospital infection rates, to the affordability of new specialty medicines and end-of-life care.  Our delivery system is far more expensive and far less safe and effective than it could be.  Providers deliver care of ever-increasing complexity within brief, often-rushed encounters, leaving limited time for dialog.  So, why invest resources and attention on an individual’s preferences about treatment?

The answer is simple: consumer involvement in care decisions results in safer, more effective, and less expensive health care. (1, 2, 3) Additionally, consumers who participate in care decisions report higher satisfaction, faster recovery from illness and better quality of life. (4, 5) Finally, care plans resulting from a shared-decision-making process result in better medication adherence and clinical outcomes. (6, 7, 8)

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Healthcare Associated Infections: What Is The Message, and What Can We Do About Them?

David Harlow

First posted 7/8/11 on Health Blawg

The good people at GE and JESS3 have come up with an HAI infographic.  It’s pretty, and it conveys the horrible information that many of us already know — healthcare associated infections kill about 100,000 people a year, and add $35 billion a year to our collective health care bill (here in the US of A); 5% of hospital inpatients end up with an HAI.

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Informed Choices: A Critical Responsibility for Health Care Consumers

Wendy Lynch

First posted 6/07/11 on the Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum

Did you know that doctors make different treatment choices for themselves than they recommend to their patients? A recent study found that doctors are more likely to take on the risk of death to avoid serious complications than they recommend to patients. (1)

Here’s an example question from the study: To treat or not to treat Avian flu? Two-thirds of doctors said they would rather take a 10 percent chance of dying of Avian Flu than a 6 percent chance of death and 4 percent chance of paralysis from the treatment. Yet, more than half would recommend the treatment for their patients. Knowing what they know, understanding what they might face, considering whether or not they might get sued, doctors make different choices for patients than for themselves.

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In Health Care, Why It Is Best That We Choose for Ourselves

Wendy Lynch

First posted 6/23/11 on the HHCF Blog

Faced with a difficult medical situation, it is not uncommon for patients to ask doctors for advice.  But asking, “Doctor, what should I do?” is a very different question than, “Doctor, can you help me understand and weigh my options?” It may sound like semantics, but your involvement and participation in making personal health decisions can make a difference in your recovery.

A recent study showed that patients who make their own choices report better recovery than those for whom choices were made by doctors (1).  Regardless of WHAT choice was made, the patients who did their own choosing reported better physical and psychological outcomes; active choice-making had its own healing power.  It may also protect us from unwanted consequences.

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