As I organized my thoughts in preparation for 2013 “Future of Healthcare on Long Island Symposium,” I thought long and hard about one of the questions I was given as a panelist: ”What part of your job responsibilities keeps you up at night?”
Panel moderator Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds asked many tough questions of the panelists who joined me at Long Island University. I served on the panel with Arthur Gianelli, chief executive officer of NuHealth; Gwen O’Shea, chief executive officer of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island; and Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of Health Sciences and dean of Stony Brook School of Medicine.
And I’m certain I wasn’t the only panel member who spent many sleepless nights thinking about how to improve our health care system.
While there are many issues about the future of health care that are on my mind, the most important one is how we at UnitedHealthcare can respond to an ever-changing environment to help the people on Long Island and across the country, make good decisions about their health. But to make those good decisions, people need good information.
As I shared in another recent blog, the Journal of Health Economics recently reported that only 14 percent of Americans understand basic health insurance concepts such as deductibles, copays, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximums. Furthermore, many people and companies are not clear about what’s happening with health reform and how the law affects them.
One of the things we have done to make information accessible and easy to understand is create UHC-TV. Found here, UHC-TV breaks down industry jargon into simple, everyday language, sometimes with a touch of humor.
We have also designed online tools that help people understand their costs and payment responsibilities. Some examples are the myClaims Manager, which helps people manage their health care expenses, and the myHealthCare Cost estimator, which helps people comparison shop for health care services based on quality and cost.
When it comes to health care reform, we have created a number of resources to break down the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into simple bite sized chucks. For example, UnitedHealthcare worked with health literacy experts to create our new health care educational booklet called the “10-Minute Guide to Health Reform,” which helps explain the ACA, government health exchanges and how reform affects people in different situations.
As we say at UnitedHealthcare, better information helps people make better decisions about their health. As the trend continues toward consumer-driven health care, it’s more critical than ever that people understand their options. And I will admit that our continuous search to find new ways to simplify the health care experience and give people more information, more data and more education about their health– well, it keeps me up at night.