Health care consumerism is a term we hear when the national health care discussion leads to how to deliver quality employee health benefits within a sustainable cost structure. The goal of health care consumerism is to provide quality health care and improve patient outcomes. This is done by cutting costs and driving efficiencies throughout the entire industry. By advancing health care consumerism, people become better advocates for their own health options and costs. It’s basically a system of shared accountability. But it’s more than that. As McKinsey’s 2016 Consumer Health Insights (CHI) Survey states, “Perhaps most important, enhanced consumer engagement has the potential to improve health outcomes.”
As the executive director for Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), our nonprofit organization provides education on and advocacy for employee benefit programs. These programs are tax-advantaged and available to working families through employer plans.
The stakes for engagement are high. The World Health Organization estimates that consumers now directly control $330 billion annually in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. And for most organizations, managing the rising costs of health care for employees is not optional. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute/Greenwald & Associates’s 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS), when considering whether to stay in or choose a new job, health care insurance was extremely important to 60% of workers, while only 42% rated a retirement savings plan to be of the same level of importance.