As American consumers, we get to choose what products we want, based on a slew of information that’s available to us: the manufacturer, the ingredients or materials used, the country where the product was created, and the opinions of other consumers. Some might even say that one of the most enjoyable and beneficial aspects of consumerism is the experience of shopping around.
For instance, I wanted a flat screen television for the longest time, and when my partner and I finally decided to purchase one, we didn’t buy the first TV the salesperson recommended. We took our time and thoroughly checked out all the options. The same policy applies to the healthcare industry, except that the shopping around process doesn’t end after you’ve found the most suitable policy. The choices continue as you decide which doctor to go to on a regular basis, which specialists to go to, and what treatments are right for you.
When navigating healthcare, it is important to maintain a shopping around mindset. NPR /Kaiser Health News reports that Whitcraft, an aerospace component manufacturer, “is about to begin a pilot program called Compass SmartShopper, offered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut. The program offers cash rebates, usually about $100, when employees go to cheaper providers. Nearly 40 services are covered, including mammograms and colonoscopies, knee replacements and cataract surgery. The program is voluntary, and there are no penalties if employees stick with the physician-referred providers.”
As Colin Cooper, CEO of Whitcraft, puts it, “people are willing to drive miles out of their way to save a few bucks on gas. Why wouldn’t they do the same for health care?” “We need to change consumption behaviors,” says Cooper. “We need to get people consuming health care the same way they consume everything else.” We couldn’t agree more.