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Reimagining a better model of care that drives better health habits
MedicalDirector's CEO, Matthew Bardsley, opens up debate around what our behaviour would be like in a world where there was no health insurance. Would it mean that we would take more time everyday to be more proactive about our health and take the right measures to prevent illness and ensure our wellbeing in the long-run?
When you are struck down sick, one of the first responses is the fear of getting worse, which prompts you to go and seek professional medical advice. And it’s this phenomenon of ‘healthcare transacting in fear,’ which drives certain behaviours within us.
But what if that ‘fear’ was taken away from us? How would that shape our way of responding to managing our health and wellbeing?
Over the course of history, whenever the fear factor has been taken out of the equation, because it is ‘insured against’, it leads to interesting behavioural changes. And one of the first things that happens is that when you’re insured, you become a little less critical or wary.
Let’s take landlord insurance for instance. A landlord who takes out insurance to protect against tenant damage, is far less likely to worry over having to constantly check the property’s upkeep, or scrutinise the tenants’ habits. That’s because the insurance has taken a lot of the ‘fear’ out of something going wrong, and you won’t necessarily proactively using your time to take precautions so things don’t go wrong.
Now let’s look at our health and what our behaviour would be like in a world where there was no health insurance. Would it mean that we would take more time everyday to be more proactive about our health and take the right measures to prevent illness and ensure our wellbeing in the long-run? Perhaps it would mean different financial habits, saving more because you know you might need more money in the event things go wrong with your health. Or you might spend more on managing your health and wellbeing today, to get ahead of the problems of tomorrow.
Our current model presents a dichotomy where there is some distance between the price you’re paying, and the value you’re receiving. And when you’re talking about patient-centric care, it can be difficult for a patient to become empowered, when they’re abstracted from the value that it costs.
On top of this, the concept of ‘pay now in your thirties, for the health problems you’ll have later,’ could create certain burdens on the health economy down the track. This is because we would be putting off the costs of health into our later years, which could lead to a serious health economic crisis once old age hits and health conditions takes hold. It would be like the GFC of the health economy.
Instead, what we should be saying is ‘look after yourself now, and you won’t have to pay so much for your ill health later.’
So looking at the model of healthcare, we need to start asking whether the status quo is actually driving unfavourable behaviour, and discuss whether there is a better economic model for patients to be more empowered, especially when we’re seeing a new digital health ecosystem emerging. In fact, it’s what the likes of Apple, Amazon and Warren Buffet are already asking, as they reimagine better socio and behavioural aspects of care and try to create new models of engagement for the future.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.