Employers, health care providers, unions, leaders and — first and foremost, consumers — must come together to build a more accessible, affordable health care system in America, proposes a call-to-action fostered by a Families USA coalition called Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone.
The diverse partners in this Alliance include the American Academy of Family Physicians, AFSCME (the largest public service employees’ union in the U.S.), the American Benefits Council (which represents employers), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), First Focus (a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization), and the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), the innovative employer health coalition representing businesses on the west coast.
The rationale for the project is that, “America’s families are hurting from high-cost, low-quality care.” In 2018, 45% of Americans between 19 and 64 years of age were under-insured, facing relatively flat wage growth coupled with triple-digit health care cost increases over more than a decade.
Given this growing financial risk-shift to consumers bearing more health care costs with relatively low return on that investment, the report calls for greater consumer involvement in changing the payment structure for healthcare in America forming “an organized and focused consumer movement,” as the Alliance names it.
The Alliance identified many economic “distortions” in U.S. health care market forces, financing and payment structures, and other factors like fraud and abuse and fragmentation in service delivery, inventoried in the graphic from the report.
For example, the report calls out pricing for insulin (in raw aggregate terms and then variations by U.S. state), compensation for physicians by specialty (ranging from nearly one-half million dollars in orthopedics at the high end to a lower boundary of $212,000 for pediatrics), and inpatient payment for Medicare patients ranging from a high in San Francisco and a lower price in Youngstown, OH.
At the conclusion of the paper, the Alliance says they will be developing a Congressional and Administrative policy agenda to promote consumer engagement and action to inspire and support this health consumer movement.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The raison d’etre of Families USA has been to advocate for consumers and their households to support economic opportunity, financial wellness, and Everyday Peoples’ access to the American Dream.
A Monmouth University poll published yesterday updates and reinforces the under-insurance statistic to which the Alliance refers. In May 2019, nearly one-half of Americans found it difficult to pay for health care deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, shown in the second chart showing the poll data for the question.
Millions of U.S. consumers are also challenged with paying for health insurance premiums (40%), housing (mortgage or rent, 33%), and groceries (30%).
Quite telling, in terms of consumers’ ability to come together as a national health care coalition, are differences across party identification regarding whether peoples’ health care costs have increased over the past two years. The last chart show, first, that more of those people registered to vote have experienced growing health care costs than people who do not intend to vote. Second, under Party ID, 55% of Democrats have seen their health care costs rise, compared with 48% of Independents and 31% of Republicans.
This will color the upcoming 2020 election with health care a key pillar in the Democratic platform, attracting interest from some Independents feeling the healthcare cost pinch.