Let’s Talk Cost: The High Cost of Health Care

Let’s Talk Cost: The High Cost of Health Care

It’s sometimes shocking to see the price of health care. While rising medical costs are one of those issues that everyone agrees needs fixing, no one seems to agree on just how to do it.

BCBSNC first began a conversation about health care costs when we launched the Let’s Talk Cost campaign in 2011. Today marks a new phase of our Let’s Talk Cost campaign, and a continued effort to help find solutions to these complex issues.

Home base for the campaign continues to be the Let’s Talk Cost website. The site has brand new information on issues like hospital infections, patient adherence to medications, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. We also highlight an array of potential solutions to the cost problem, backed by data from our own initiatives plus research from others in health care.

Here at BCBSNC, our vision is to be a leader in improving health care, and because of that, we share the responsibility of helping consumers understand the health care cost problem. We have never shied away from discussion on rising health premiums — and we own the part we play. For example, this new TV spot highlights administrative and regulatory costs that ultimately impact what you pay for coverage.

Is there a role you can play? Absolutely. We want to hear from you, whether you agree, disagree or simply want to know more. Clicking on any specific topic on the site will give you options to share and comment through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. On Twitter, use the hashtag #letstalkcost to keep up and share your thoughts.

Why Talk Cost Infographic

Why Talk Cost Infographic

About Kyle Marshall

Kyle Marshall is a communications specialist at BCBSNC, where he manages the company’s executive communications program, writes speeches and presentations for company leaders, and has held just about every role in Corporate Communications over the past dozen years. Back in the 1990s, he was a business reporter at The News & Observer.

  • http://www.waynecaswell.com Wayne Caswell

    The key to getting costs under control is to get the incentives right all along the health care continuum.

    PAYERS — Where insurance companies once were able to control profits by selecting only the healthiest customers and cutting off those who became too expensive, that’s no longer the case under Obamacare, so they’re finding new ways to stay profitable, including extending wellness programs, which were initially developed for self-insured corporations, to their other customers. They’re also offering deep discounts on premiums to customers willing to accept higher deductibles and copays, giving them more skin in the game. Some are even starting to pay for medical tourism and home health care with telehealth video consultations and the necessary medical devices and home modifications when the costs are less and outcomes better.

    CONSUMERS — With good insurance, consumers have had little incentive to seek the best value in their health care or lifestyle choices because, after all, someone else was paying, and they often didn’t even see the costs anyway. While high-deductible policies have given them new incentives to shop around, they are increasingly able to actually do that, because insurers are pressuring providers to be more transparent in their pricing up front. Those without insurance often avoided preventative care, would let their medical conditions fester until they required emergency care, or would rely on the much more expensive ER rather than a family physician. Obama are is addressing this too.

    PROVIDERS — The medical industrial complex has been immensely profitable by viewing patients as paying customers and working to keep them … paying … by treating symptoms and managing disease. There’s no profit incentive to promote health, wellness, and prevention, and in fact, medical schooled don’t even teach that. There’s so much resistance to change that this industry spends twice as much on lobbying as the military industrial complex, because it doesn’t want real health reforms that would lessen their $2.8 trillion in revenue. That lobbying is at the root of opposition to Obamacare.

    POLITICIANS — With their primary objective of getting reelected, and the influencing power of wealthy special interests, it’s no wonder that corruption runs rampant. Policy decisions are made along ideological lines and catering to those special interest rather than the overall public good. Policies that harm the environment and the food supply or that widen the wealth gap actually contribute to increased demand for medical care rather than lessen it.

    • Kyle Marshall

      Wayne, you’ve nailed one of the big keys: Getting incentives aligned across all areas of health care. Thanks for your comments, and let me add a point about consumers. The health care system has asked little of consumers until recently. As you point out, insurers and providers have shielded patients from true costs.

      We have a long way to go before shopping for health care is like shopping for a car, but we’ve made progress. Last year the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill requiring hospitals to report their negotiated rates for 140 common medical procedures. And for BCBSNC members, we offer a treatment cost estimator on our website that enables comparison shopping for common procedures.

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