We procrastinate and are quite well at doing it. We put off errands, work, saving, health, fixing problems, and so on ad infinitum.
Where we get into a predicament is when a potential and/or a current minimal issue gets pushed into the future.
Insignificant troubles commonly ferment into catastrophic problems whereby larger, costlier, and more time-consuming solutions need to be deployed.
Welcome to healthcare.
Currently, our healthcare system de-incentivizes patients to take care of minor ailments and potential maladies. Consumers pay high premiums coupled with high deductibles, copayments and coinsurance amounts. Not only are we averse to inconvenience and great procrastinators but now charge us $40-$80 copayments to go to the doctor; it’s not happening.
This is especially true for those of us who are currently healthy – this “healthy” status is contingent upon who you ask. If there’s no present issue, there is nothing to go get assessed. If there are symptoms that are deemed by us to be trivial, we will push through it.
Herein lies the problem.
We do not get educated on diseases that we may cross paths with. We do not begin altering decisions that may lower the likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic disease. We do not permanently fix the hole in the boat but instead put a paper towel in it to buy us some time.
The end result: not one we want, the insurance companies want, nor the physicians.
The current tide floats us to relief. We need the tide to shift towards prevention.
Pay us to go to the doctor. You’re a healthy 28-year-old with no physical symptoms of illness? Great! Go to your primary care physician at least annually and he’ll give you $50 at the checkout desk. The physician can submit a claim to the insurance carrier for not only the services rendered but the $50 payment made to the patient.
You’re a patient who is pre-diabetic and can take action to diminish the likelihood of being diabetic? Go to the doctor and find out how!
Why you may ask, would insurance companies do this?
Short-term, this may cost insurance companies and diminish their profits (they could increase premium amounts to equal the payments to the patients for preventative services if it substantially reduces their next few quarters profit margin. Psychologically, even if it is the same net amount, I am inclined to believe patients would go to get their money back). Long term, their cost saving if they could minimize the number of people contracting chronic diseases would substantially outweigh their costs.
The same methodology could be used for the compliance dilemma providers have. If patients are complying with the providers’ orders, an amount should be given to reward the patient. Results should be discussed and illustrated to confirm that the patient’s decision and actions that support adherence are indeed beneficial.
A NIH study showed evidence that patient incentive programs might be a mechanism to increase rates of preventative care received. In this study, patients paid to be part of the program and upon doing so, received discounts on goods and travel. I presume the receipt of preventative services would dramatically increase if you rid of the cost to sign up and increase the reward for receiving care.
Let’s shift the paradigm of healthcare from relief to prevention. The small costs we would pay as a society would never come close to the regret, angst, fear, and guilt we would have when the diagnosis is listed in our file. This shift would benefit all parties in the healthcare field as the pendulum swings from quantity to quality (besides the pharmaceutical industry- relief is their business).
Let us be all on the same team.