Last month I was interviewed by Joan Justice of HealthWorks Collective. She’d picked up on my “visible pricing” rant, and couldn’t agree more, so we did this nine minute Skype interview. Her full post about it is here.
Her entire series of interviews on high quality, low cost healthcare is here. Thanks for including me, Joan – it was stimulating!
Ross Bjella says
Hi Dave! Love your work.
My company, Alithias, provides healthcare price and quality “transparency” to self insured employers in Wisconsin. Our platform allows for employer provided incentives, bundled rates from local providers, Rx search functionality, quality scores and ratings and some unique engagement tools. We are starting to get good traction, but the objection I’m getting from HR VPs and insurance companies is this: “This sounds good, but we don’t think people will actually change their behavior. They’ll just do what their doctor tells them to do – and stay within the same health system, regardless of price.”
Locally, Serigraph (see “The Company That Solved Healthcare” by John Torinus) and Manitowoc County have proven that people will shop for care when given incentives. My personal deductible is $7,000, so you can bet my family shops for care. Do you know of any other studies that show healthcare transparency actually results in behavior change?
e-Patient Dave says
Hi Ross – I don’t know of any such study but I’ll ask around.
I would earnestly ask those VPs and insurance companies if THEY know of studies that patients do NOT change behavior when they’re given
1. information on price and quality
2. clear PERMISSION to ask about costs & quality (permission from docs *and from insurance companies*) (via their employers, perhaps!)
3. cooperation, not resistance, when they do ask.
I blogged last year several times that when I asked my hospital AND MY INSURANCE COMPANY how much something would cost, the answer was consistently “We don’t know.” In that environment it’s kind of silly to say consumers won’t change behavior if you DO tell them, eh? :)
(To drive home the point, remember my advice to stop talking about “transparency” and call a spade a spade: VISIBLE PRICES. Without visible prices you can’t indict people for not acting like informed consumers, eh?)
Seriously: ask if there are studies where those three conditions existed. And, presuming the answer is no, ask if they’d be interested in reducing costs, and thus if they’d be interested in such a study.
My guess is that more often than not you won’t get an enthusiastic “Hell yes!” But if you do get a yes, let’s get to work! (Seriously. Keep in touch.)
p.s. I do know, for a fact, that some insurance companies (not all!) are OPPOSED to reducing our total healthcare spending, because they’re essentially on commission: 5% of a shrinking spend equals shrinking income. I’ve heard from more than one corner of the country that people were told to STOP focusing on the cost of care as a path to improvement – told by insurance companies.
Fortunately, other (e.g. Aetna) are very aggressively working to drive costs down by putting price information in consumers’ hands. I’ll welcome comments from other companies who are doing it, with whatever specifics they’d like to brag about!