FSA Friday - 6/29/18 - Putting the "consumer" back in "consumer healthcare"

Happy Friday, everyone! Next week, we'll celebrate the Fourth of July, honoring the day a revolution came to an end, and independence began for the United States. Well, maybe it's time U.S. citizens took the same approach to rising healthcare costs. Maybe it's time we take back control and demand a revolution for better pricing, and better value for the money we spend on healthcare.

(We'll wait while you go watch the Bill Pullman speech from "Independence Day." Twice.)

Okay, maybe we're being a little dramatic, but it's never been more evident that consumer healthcare has left the consumer out of the equation for far too long. And this week's articles highlight how change is underway, by healthcare organizations, and the consumers themselves. Let's take a look.

8 reasons you're overpaying for healthcare - Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool (via USA Today)

Sometimes, the best solutions are right under our noses. In this article, the author points out how consumers can lower their healthcare spending, with a strong focus on communicating with doctors and providers to get the most for their money.

Whether it's something as simple as free pill samples, or something a little more involved, like negotiating pricing on treatments, patients have a lot more flexibility than they realize. And they're leaving a ton of money on the table by not using it.

They're not exactly life hacks but these tips are things most people can do with minimal trouble to get more for their healthcare spending. (Though we're wondering why a certain tax-free spending option didn't make the list.)

Consumer-Centered Healthcare Improves, Focus on Innovation Key - Sara Heath, Patient Engagement HIT

Of course, the tips above might help you, but there needs to be more consumer-focused change across the industry. The next article covers a recent study that supports this even further. As we get more connected, healthcare providers need to follow suit, leveraging tech to improve the customer experience.

According to a report from consulting firm Kaufman Hall, healthcare organizations are making strides toward consumer-focused operations, but there's a long way to go before they catch up to other industries.

The report focused on four primary areas of consumer healthcare -- access, experience, pricing and analytics. The results? Well, they're not surprising, but there's still reason for hope. Naturally, 90% of surveyed companies said consumer satisfaction is a high priority. But the other numbers don't quite add up.

Just 12% of organizations were ranked highly for using consumer insights and analytics. Only 39% have patient pricing as a priority. And only 35% offered price transparency to patients.

These are things we've come to expect from every other industry in the world. Buying homes, shopping for car insurance, even hiring a lawyer -- all things we can price and compare. Why is healthcare so far behind the curve on consumer-friendly practices?

The report might not seem that encouraging, but like we said, there's reason for hope. There's still a long way to go and the report shows positive trends are happening across the board -- it's not a solution, but it's a start. Check out the report and see if you agree.

Until next week, have a safe and healthy holiday!

FSA Friday is a weekly roundup of the latest topics, tips and headlines to keep you updated on all things flex spending. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

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