You’re paying more out-of-pocket for health care co-payments and premiums. You are overwhelmed with health care choices. You search for health information online. You might be lucky enough to have health insurance covered by your employer, but you’re worried about losing it if you leave your job. You shop for healthy food, might do Pilates or Yoga, and spend money on health-oriented cosmeceuticals. You want to engage with the health system, and be empowered in your own health and health care.

Welcome to Health Populi. As a health economist, I believe that health is a person’s most valuable asset. My mother and father taught me that fundamental value. My mother, Polly, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1971. There was no Internet to consult; there was a doctor, who fortuitously was just the sort to partner with a patient and be open to the latest clinical research. There was also a librarian, a close friend of Polly’s, who helped her dig up health information via the good old Dewey Decimal System, microfiche, and the unwieldy tomes of Index Medicus. Two nutrition books informed Polly’s approach to personal health management: Adele Davis’s Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit and Let’s Get Well. Empowered by knowledge, trust in a good doctor, and buoyed by the abundant love of family and friends, my mother beat a six-month death sentence and lived an additional 7 years beyond the doctors’ original prognosis.

After her death, I made the personal, professional, and studied health economics at the University of Michigan. I’ve spent the last two decades advising with the vast array of health care stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe – providers, payers, technology companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, financial services, and other players in the health care market.

In this blog, I will share my multi-faceted perspectives on health care. In the new wave of transparency in American health care, I seek to shed light. I want to help move along the dialogue that Americans – not just politicians and pundits, but the bulk of Americans living and working outside of legislatures — must have regarding how to honestly, openly and boldly confront the challenges facing U.S. health care.

Changing our behavior in this new world will involve re-engaging with the U.S. health system and our innermost motivations by

• understanding what health care costs,
• taking better care of ourselves,

• getting smarter about health and health care, and,

• voting in elections.

Along with education, no single domestic issue will affect every American more directly than health care will in the next years and decades to come. Now, read on. Get smart. Go health-shopping. Demand value from those who supply you with health goods and services. Vote. The health system is yours. Act like it.

Polly and Jane