Health Care Transparency–The Incredible JourneyFebruary 27th, 2015 By: Betty Long
Transparency. Officially defined by Merriam Webster as "the quality that makes something obvious or easy to understand."
Transparency in health care. Might as well (affectionately) refer to it as the Incredible Journey.
There are many efforts going on currently that seek to create price transparency in health care. Call me crazy but making the pricing of health care 'something obvious or easy to understand' is very, very optimistic. Sure, there may be listings of services and price ranges for those services, but 'easy to understand' or 'obvious,'? No way. The only people who can understand health care pricing might be the 'numbers crunchers' who work in health care. The everyday, regular Joe consumer? No chance.
Still, if we are to move forward in changing our health care system, in empowering patients to make better decisions, we must trudge on. Educating patients about co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles, usual-customary-reasonable charges, and in-network/out of network is no doubt part of that incredible journey, particularly in these days of high-deductible health plans. Patients are often 'on the hook' more for paying for their care so we need to give them the proper tools (as terribly confusing as it may be for the non-CPA among us).
But out of pocket costs and charges billed versus amount paid are just part of the journey. Health care must also become very transparent about performance. For providers and facilities. And as awkward and uncomfortable as this may become for those being evaluated, it is a necessary component to FULL transparency. I don't mean to minimize this issue at all, but I often look to baseball to explain things. (Though just our game, it is our national pastime and think of ALL the stats it has!) Does a manager pick the player who's had 1 hit in 20 at bats to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded, down 1 run or does he pick the player who's had 9 hits in 20 at bats? If I'm a patient selecting a physician or a surgeon, I want to know who the "go-to" pick is. But that is the great dilemma. Price is one component of health care. Quality is the other.
Our task, should we decide to accept it, will absolutely be challenging and ongoing, but as Sir Winston Churchill, the great statesman of England, and countryman of Nurse Florence Nightingale, was quoted as saying,
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
Guardian Nurses exists, in large part, to help patients through that Incredible Journey. If you are in the midst of a new or protracted healthcare issue, whether it's financial or clinical, call us. We can help.
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