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January 13, 2016

Shifting ‘Healthcare’ to ‘Well Care’

Summary:

Today's healthcare is a losing battle. Incentives are completely misaligned. The solution is a switch to "well care."

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New York City has been a leader in the future of healthcare. Listing calories on menus, banning soda sales in sizes larger than 16 ounces and now requiring a designation on menus for any items with more than 2,300 mg of sodium (or a teaspoon of salt) are, if you haven’t figured it out, great ideas. While they seem a bit big brother-ish, I applaud the intent.

Today’s healthcare is a losing battle. Incentives are completely misaligned. Providers get paid for dispensing care, and we keep introducing better — and more expensive — solutions that cure health conditions that inevitably develop as we age.

Today’s usage of the word “healthcare” is “care for the sick.” The only way we are going to solve our cost crisis is to change healthcare to mean “well care.”

By aligning incentives to encourage well care, the system will be a lot less frictional. So, how would this work? The HMOs of the 1980s and 1990s had it right. Provider reimbursement rates would be based in part on compliance by their patients. And providers would be free to decline to treat patients who, because of lifestyle choices, would affect their compensation.

Public awareness and support of this new well care normal can be tied to affordability, and I would envision a new class of coverage developing for those who opt in to a well care lifestyle. Accountability would be directly tied to affordability and also to provider choice. Seemingly insurmountable issues call for creative solutions. We need to change course now.

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About the Author

Craig Hasday is President of Frenkel Benefits and Senior Executive Vice President of Frenkel and Company. Frenkel Benefits is one of the largest privately held independent employee benefits brokers in the United States. He is a nationally recognized healthcare leader, who has sat on the national advisory boards of Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint, as well as the regional advisory boards of most major carriers.

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