Research, Technology, and Administration

Barriers to Empowerment in Modern Health Care

natefinnmhc No Comments

One of the big ways in which the traditional hospital and healthcare system fails is when it disempowers individuals to understand the cost of their healthcare services. Health provider networks frequently claim to offer greater overall efficiency, but it’s hard to know and hard to measure when costs and services so frequently seem made up on the fly. Perhaps, just as bad, it creates an environment in which patients are unable to clearly understand the cost of their healthcare and, thus, are less empowered to plan for their future health needs.

 

Even Dental Coverage is Anything but Transparent

I’ve recently had a couple different circumstances to experience these frustrations, if not outright failings. I had a crown put in last November and December. During the initial visit, I sat down with the dentist’s billing coordinator to go over how much it would cost. I was told one price, split over two different bills that I paid during the initial visit as well as the follow-up visit. Putting in the crown was a two-step process.

In between the two visits, our health insurance was cancelled by my wife’s employer. So, then, in January, I got a bill for $133 itemized over some two dozen different largely indecipherable service descriptions. Now, this wasn’t my first rodeo when it comes to billing codes, service authorization, coverage policies, and the murky ways in which health insurance doesn’t works. But this bill seemed entirely unintelligible. I ended up calling the dentist and, after telling my whole story to a new billing coordinator and the regional manager, they decided to simply write the bill off. I still don’t know how much what service cost. I mean, it’s one thing to not consider costs for emergency health services, but the dentist office? Can’t I at least take a proactive approach to my dental care and service costs?

 

Trying to Get a Quote at the Dermatologist Office

Right around the same time, my wife went to the dermatologist and was deciding whether to get ultimately harmless but not very pleasant-looking age spots removed from her face. How much was the necessary liquid nitrogen treatment going to cost? The dermatologist’s office wasn’t sure. The Internet said the treatment might cost anywhere from $150 to $1,600. We eventually had to contact the health insurer with the correct billing codes from the dermatologist office to know what the bill was going to be.

 

Partisan Conflict Increases Dysfunction in the Health Care System

To me, the health care system suffers from the haphazard way that competing philosophies have been implemented. It’s like we keep telling people and families to take greater personal responsibility for their health care and health outcomes, while simultaneously subjecting them to an over-managed and largely opaque health care system that tells them to shut up, wait to see what the bill will be, and then pay it—or don’t.

It starts with our state and national politics and then slowly, perpetually infects local health providers and individual health consumers. It degrades the trust that patients have in any number of hospital and healthcare settings. And it creates invisible inefficiencies that make it difficult for even health care industry experts to understand how to improve the system itself.

 

Inspirational Health Quotes

It's not about weight, it's about fitness, and one component of being fit is to have relatively low body fat, because fat is not very efficient, whereas muscle is.