Consumers of healthcare are being pushed to the limit. High deductibles, co-insurance, and narrow networks are the leading strategies of third party payers to control the rate of spending by consumers. Unfortunately, these obstacles result in reduced access to care – already a shameful deficiency of the American healthcare system. What benefit do patients derive from coverage that is unusable?
Patients deserve basic consumer protections before deciding on a course of care. This includes an understanding of the risks and the benefits, knowledge of the costs and the alternatives, and having some measure of quality about the providers. Armed with such information, consumers with high deductibles can select low cost care rather than no care at all. They can even select providers based on high value rather than on convenience.
Several insurance companies will be sharing their fees through the Health Care Cost Institute in early 2015. Consumers need to embrace transparency and begin shopping for healthcare the way they do everything else.