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May 22 2017
Finding "value" in healthcare.

One authority defines ‘value’ as “the regard that something is held to deserve, the importance, worth or usefulness of something” as a noun, and to “estimate the monetary worth of something” as a verb. 

Sounds simple. Which it is. When you really understand the object or experience you’re thinking of, it can easily be viewed from a single perspective, and it doesn’t engage you emotionally.

It’s easy to assign a specific value to a good restaurant meal or a Brewer game. It gets a bit harder when looking at art, seeing a performance at the Capitol Civic Centre or discussing with your children the value of additional education after high school. Healthcare is another story altogether!

Why? There are many reasons. To begin with, healthcare is really, really complicated. It’s getting harder to figure out where the healthcare “system” begins and ends, what with a wave of innovations continually moving what you used to get from doctors to apps on your mobile phone.  

Seeing the doctor used to be a most intimate interaction; now nearly everyone can access “E-Visits” on your computer or phone. Your insurer, if you have one, increasingly calls the shots on what you can do or which doctor or hospital you can see.  

So while innovation is empowering you, at the same time insurers are often restricting your choices. The challenge with valuing healthcare is that, depending on your circumstances, there are literally dozens of different perspectives to take. 

One side of the political isle holds access to healthcare as an important right and national public health safety issue, and the other feels it is an issue that is up to states, individuals and insurance markets to decide if it’s important. To quote the President: “…healthcare is more complicated than I thought!”

Approaching “value” in healthcare needs to start with a very individual perspective on what is important to you. For example, carrying health insurance is one of the most important things you can do to protect your personal and financial health. The fact that the Affordable Care Act has allowed 24 million individuals to be insured has meant a dramatic reduction in personal bankruptcies coming from unplanned hospital bills. 

To me, being protected from a health issue ruining both your personal health and financial security is an incredibly important value, and preserving pre-existing coverage protection is a national health safety issue.

Mark Herzog is the President & CEO at Holy Family Memorial. 


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