From Health Insurance to Health Plan – A Patient’s View

October 13th, 2009 by DCPatient Leave a reply »

It has been interesting for me to watch the transformation of the term health insurer to health plan.  Having been insured since in my mother’s womb, I have never been notified that any of my health insurance companies has a plan for my health.  For a health insurance company to be termed a PLAN, in my mind, I would like to see:

1. Prompting and  reimbursing me and my physicians to establish my baseline health metrics and specific health goal(s)

Enrolling in a plan as a new subscriber, a milestone birthday, or just the turn of the calendar could provide the incentive to create a personal plan for my health.  Am I hypertensive? Am I diabetic?  Do I want to lose weight this year, train for a marathon or have a baby?

2. Providing quality and cost assessment information so that I could select the best physicians for my circumstances

See post  A Patient’s Quest for Quality in Healthcare.

3. Facilitating information exchange between my team of physicians

I have a primary care physician, gastroenterologist, transplant hepatologist, gynecologist, reproductive endocrinologist, dermatologist, and from time to time an oncologist, across 4 different practices and medical centers. I would pay anything to have them talk to each other.  Even to have them reliably and regularly share data and view one unified chart and come to a common assessment and plan for my treatment would relieve me of the huge burden of coordination, and no doubt reduce cost, waste, and error.

4. Suggesting, creating networks and reimbursing or providing discounts to complementary services to augment my health such as acupuncture, nutrition counseling, gym membership

90% of what I do to maintain and improve my health happens outside of a doctor’s office.  Health insurer’s buying power and breadth can support my access and use of complementary wellness services to optimize medical treatments and prevent others.

5. Proactively sending me lab results, medication refill and appointment scheduling reminders

Health insurers could add real value by leveraging technology to facilitate my adherence to my treatment plan in the midst of a busy life.

6. Helping me track my progress against an integrated care plan that I create with my team of physicians and complementary providers

Whether building on success or highlighting areas for early intervention, an integrated health plan dashboard with alerts could encourage my focus and active pursuit of health.

Under increased scrutiny in this era of healthcare reform, health insurance companies need to decide and describe how they add value to the healthcare system.   Their access to aggregate data on their members can fuel the integration of care across physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies for patients and support empowered consumer behavior.

Further reading:

The Patient-Centered Care Collaborative

Optum Health, subsidiary of United Health Group

Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center

Google Health

Microsoft HealthVault

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