Employers: Improving health care consumerism is in your court

We were drafting our holiday sign-off this morning when this post from Fran Melmed crossed our desk. It’s too important to ignore.

Altarum just published a study brief indicating that consumers are choosier about cars and appliances than they are about their health care — about one in three consumers said they do detailed research before selecting a doctor, while nearly 60% do so before purchasing a car.

What’s the problem here? It’s not likely that consumers don’t want to make informed decisions about their health. Instead, research suggests that consumers aren’t equipped with the right information about their options: either they don’t have access to it, they don’t know where to look for it, or they can’t make sense of it once they have it. Or some combination thereof.

Fran rightly calls on us, as consumers, to “pick up the sword” — and, just as rightly, calls on employers to play a role in developing vital consumer education skills in their employees:

it boils down to this: employers have work to do. employers who want their employees to act as health care consumers will need to step in and teach them how to find and use these newly available tools — and tell them they have an obligation to themselves and their company to do so.

At AIPM, we have long been bullish on the importance of wise health care consumerism. We started, and continue to sponsor, National Wise Health Care Consumer month. (It’s in February. Mark your calendar. We’re going to do it right this year.)

It’s at the core of who we are as a company, and what we do. We continue to emphasize the importance of medical self-care (at a time when many wellness providers are pushing more costly interventions, such as biometric screenings) because we have seen how effective it is for our clients — and because it empowers employees to make better decisions about their health care.

We hope to bring this conversation to the fore in 2012. It’s of increasing importance to wellness managers, the firms they work for and the employees they serve as health care costs continue to escalate.

Comments are closed.