By Britt Johnsen and Emily Hulstein
A few simple questions saved $2,000 for Mick Hawton and his family.
His son, Siah, had gone to the doctor for a broken finger, which happened during football. During his first visit, he got an x-ray. Then during a second visit the nurse insisted protocol would be to get a second x-ray — despite the fact that he already had results from the first.
After asking questions and pushing to be efficient, the doctor realized that Siah had all he needed. He received a splint rather than the cast that the first doctor originally thought he’d need — and that was it. Mick and his wife figure they saved about $2,000 because there was no work or school that had to be missed, no extra x-rays, and no additional doctor’s office visits. They also saved money because Siah didn’t need pain medication.
February is National Wise Healthcare Consumer Month. At Trig, we believe that wise healthcare consumerism is one way patients can encourage change to the current system. When consumers take an active role in their care – much like Hawton and his son did – they can save money for themselves, their family and the companies they work for.
Healthcare consumerism can be defined as empowering patients to get involved in their own healthcare decisions. It encourages the transfer of knowledge so that patients can make more informed and involved decisions regarding their treatment. It pushes for a partnership between doctor and patients, rather than a “doctors says, patient does” model.
This saves a significant amount of money for everyone. About half the country’s healthcare spending is waste. According to a 2008 report by Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s Health Research Institute, $1.2 trillion of the $2.2 trillion that Americans spend on healthcare is wasteful. Taking an active role can reduce costs for everyone. In fact, when people learn about their health, medical conditions and medications, costs are typically reduced by 20 percent, according to American College of Cardiology.
The importance of being an active consumer will likely continue to increase. According to CFO.com, in 2014 people saw the biggest one-year rise in enrollment for high-deductible consumer-driven health plans — from 18 percent to 23 percent of all covered employees.
But what exactly does wise healthcare consumerism that look like? Well, we can tell you what it doesn’t look like. It does not mean that the patient learns how to practice medicine; it also doesn’t mean that you make medical decisions without proper guidance. And it does not mean that you undermine or disrespect your doctor or other medical professionals.
It does mean that you take the direction that Mick Hawton and his son, Siah, did. Ask questions, push for what you need (in a respectful way), and be informed about what’s possible.