Getting people insured is a step in the right direction, Smoldt said, but any long lasting policy must allow individuals to own their own insurance and have the means to choose appropriate medical care. Of this, there are two key components consumer choice and consumer involvement.
Choice refers to giving the consumer different options from which to choose. It allows them to be the consumers of healthcare services and to become involved in making those critical decisions.
Consumer involvement could mean premiums would vary according to whether the consumer is following healthy lifestyles and is following chronic disease treatment plans. For example, consumers who smoke, are over weight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, etc., would pay higher premiums.
"Several employers have implemented such plans and have found that the beneficiaries are more likely to follow treatment plans and healthy lifestyles," Smoldt said. "So there was an improvement in health and the overall costs were reduced."
Integration and coordination
Care and information must be integrated into all services, creating a seamless personalized experience for patients and providers, Smoldt and Cortese state. Integrated delivery systems exhibit higher quality and better cost-containment, they added.
Cortese said that when taken as a whole, these modifications should be relatively painless for the consumer, who oftentimes is loath to changes in healthcare policies.
"What they should be seeing is a better delivery of care and they should notice that if they had been going to the hospital on a regular basis, that they are not going to the hospital as often," Cortese said.
Quality of life will improve as a result.
"It's one thing to have diabetes and to learn to live with it," he added. "But if you live with it by being hospitalize
|Contact: Skip Derra|
Arizona State University