With the roll out of Affordable Health Care, increasing attention has been focused on the dramatic rise in health care costs. In addition to being a necessity for all Americans, health care is an important economic transaction we all engage in on a regular basis.
During this holiday season, I asked some patients about their on-line and in-store purchasing habits, and the process by which they choose what to put in their “shopping cart.” While need, want and quality are important, not surprisingly, the primary determinant is price.
When asked if they would put products in their “shopping cart” while shopping online without any attention to price, their reaction is “of course not, that would be crazy.” Of course, if price wasn’t shown (and appeared to be free) they would load it up their “cart.”
When I then asked if they knew who “orders” their healthcare and puts it in their “shopping cart,” most are stumped by the question, as it is rarely framed in these terms. They often make the mistake of thinking it’s the payer (insurance, Medicare) or the recipient (themselves). In reality, it’s we, the physicians, who order their healthcare, place it in their “shopping cart” and then expect it to be paid by a “third party ,” unconcerned and unaware of the cost. And herein lies both part of the origins of the accelerating healthcare cost crisis and a possible solution.