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Aug 18 2014
Don't fall into the cost trap
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It’s time to go shopping. What are we looking to buy? I’m going to use buying a pair of running shoes as an example, but it really doesn’t matter – just think about something you might purchase in the near future as you follow along and answer the following questions:

  1. How much will my running shoes cost?  Our answer will depend on the brand, the style, the quality, the enhancements and the current demand, among other factors.  
  2. How many years can I expect my running shoes to last? It will depend on several things mentioned above, plus things like how many miles you run per week, what conditions you run in, how well you care for your shoes and whether the shoes fit properly.
  3. How many running shoes will I need in the next 10 years? Take 10 and divide it by the answer from Question 2.
  4. How much will I spend buying running shoes for the next 10 years? Take the answer from Question 1 and multiply it by the answer to Question 3.
  5. Which running shoes should I buy? The cool-looking ones your friend had on last week of course!

All joking aside, the real answer truly depends on what type of a shopper you are – and don’t forget we haven’t even started to think about where to buy the shoes. A serious runner will invest much more in a pair of shoes that is comfortable and will last, while a value shopper will simply look for the lowest price tag and dash to the checkout. A new runner might research online, ask friends and family who run and get advice from the salesperson before making a decision whereas a longtime runner might have developed a favorite shoe that he is loyal to.

When you think about it, many healthcare decisions follow this same decision-making process – whether it’s a consumer choosing a new primary care physician or an employer deciding which insurance product to offer its employees.  As you can see from the example above, that could lead to a decision that doesn’t take into account full value (cost and quality), or full cost over time.

Holy Family Memorial provides cost transparency to our patients by providing good faith cost estimates on any procedure or stay, explaining that the final bill could increase or decrease depending on insurance coverage and additional complications. Much like the running shoes example above, there are many factors other than price that should influence final purchasing decisions.

Over the last decade we’ve made conscious efforts to reduce hospitalizations and procedures. By focusing on improving the community’s health, we are on a path that provides long-term value instead of short-term gain to the bottom line. We encourage consumers and employers alike to think about the healthcare they receive and where they receive it before making a final decision.


Mark Herzog is the President and CEO of Holy Family Memorial. Reach him at mherzog@hfmhealth.org.


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