Skip to content

Boomers Should Fight Back Against Medicare “Running Dry!”

April 24, 2012

Earlier this week, trustees running the Medicare Trust fund reported that 100,000 Americans join Medicare each month, and the funds will run dry by 2024.

Last week, the New York Times reported that each American spend about $7,600 a year on health care, that one in two adults lives with a chronic disease—and the average wait time to see a doctor in a metropolitan area is 20 days.

Everyone is talking about trimming health care costs and promoting wellness but what are health insurance companies and Medicare doing to reimburse health care providers for keeping folks healthy?

If you listen to a hospital administrator—not much.

Recently, I was speaking candidly with a hospital administrator who told me, “Insurance companies pay us when the bed is full, not when it’s empty.  In order for wellness to really work, we need to change the payment structure.”

Makes sense.  Running a hospital is a business.  With rising health care costs, and the Medicare crisis getting larger by the minute as Baby Boomers turn 65, something has got to give.

When patients are well– no money is exchanged and that’s a loser for a lot of people.  And that’s a crime Baby Boomers ought to fight and fight hard.

Entrepreneurs are developing mobile app and websites to help consumers take control of their health, manage their ailments and promote their wellness.  These sites also have support group links so patients can talk to each other about their medical issues and discuss treatments that work for them.

Patients with chronic diseases are often well served by these sites.  For example, I have chronic tennis elbow.  I have been to physical therapy, but sometimes I forget the exercises.  So I looked them up on sharecare.com, a site where experts answer health care questions.  I refreshed my memory after seeing diagrams of the exercises and saved myself and the insurance company the cost of a doctor’s visit.

Sure, some physicians will argue—and rightfully so—that some patients self-diagnosis and wait too long to actually visit a doctor and when they do, the ailment has worsened.  But that also happens without the Internet.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 78%of all Baby Boomers use digital devices.  They say they search for health information 83% of the time they go on line.

Baby Boomers are squeezing the Medicare costs while simultaneously educating themselves about health care.  They are prime targets to become users of mobile health devices.  Smartphone users make up 46% of the population and 29% of Boomers use them.  Boomers have the equipment, the knowledge and the inclination to manage their health care better at a more efficient cost.

But again we must ask how are these entrepreneurs, physicians, and hospitals reimbursed for encouraging wellness?  They are not.

For example, there’s Avado, that’s talked about as the “mint.com for health care.”     It works when a doctor subscribes to Avado and gets a website package that enables patients to fill out forms, schedule appointments, track symptoms for chronic conditions, and even get weekly medication reminders.  Doctors and patients decide what metrics they will track—like blood pressure or asthma attacks.

But here’s the hitch…physicians have to pay for it.  And if patients are tracking and treating their health issues through a website in a physician-patient partnership—how is the physician to earn a living?

Again, the $64,000 question.  We must change the payment system in order to provide an incentive to health care providers to keep patients OUT of their offices.

Insurance companies and the government’s Medicare system need to talk about the elephant in the room.

The time has come when Boomers, who are experts at grassroots letter writing campaigns, and effective protesting tactics, take the message to insurance companies and their legislators that this form of reimbursement must change.

It’s time the 78 million people who defined modern day revolution  by marching on Washington, get on their computers and write letters, and make phone calls to make a change.

Boomers are fighting for their health and longevity every day.  But it’s not enough.  We need to raise our voices.

Like the hospital man said—“I get paid when my beds are full of sick people” and until that changes, all of these innovative apps and telemedical devices aren’t going to be used.

And that’s a crime.

Advertisements

From → Baby Boomers, Blog

3 Comments
  1. Lauren Allegrezza permalink

    You raise some really interesting points here about health, technology, and aging. There’s a lot of talk going around about aging in place and home health monitoring, but if these technologies are going to really catch on there should be some sort of incentive for the health care industry to encourage them.

    As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act awaits its fate from the Supreme Court, regardless of the outcome of their decision, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in healthcare policy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: