Last week’s house vote to repeal Obamacare is in the history books signifying – well frankly, I don’t know. Fact is, there have been plenty of partisan reasons for either liking or hating this law, but are there reasons that we all recognize as a benefit? What about these:
New money. Before Obamacare, venture capitalists avoided most Healthcare. Today, venture money is flowing to innovative health technology companies, startups offering new models of care and businesses focused on engaging consumers. Health startups are everywhere, each bringing lessons learned from entrepreneurs who see similarities to how other industries were disrupted by using technology and information to enable consumer-focused business models. Undoubtedly many will fail, but some will get it right.
Most of these new companies are focused on reducing the overall cost of care through eliminating waste, improving processes, or keeping consumers informed and engaged. Companies like pokitdok, Castlight Health and mpirica are enabling people to easily access and understand relevant cost, quality and benefits information so they can make the right health choices. Start-ups like Iora Health and Qliance use new clinical models of care to improve the health of patients over the long term. Apple’s Healthkit is aimed at creating a platform for consumers and providers to share information enabling population health management, a critical capability to achieve reduced costs.
Focused Leaders. Healthcare leaders today realize that they need to evolve their businesses at a pace never before imagined to survive. Among existing healthcare leaders, policy changes have created an unprecedented self-examination of their existing business models. Most know that if they don’t re-examine every aspect of their business; from the products they sell and how they manage their staff to how they treat patients, that someone else will do it better. Across the industry, providers, health plans, benefits brokers and employers are all evaluating how the market is evolving and have realized that inaction is not an option. Healthcare executives today have newfound interest in doing things differently, making bold decisions, and creating new partnerships. The best will win by thoughtful strategies focused on improving the consumer experience, reducing waste and improving care.
The consumer is getting involved. To the majority of consumers, healthcare has been a “black box”, something overly complex that requires an expert to explain. With the changes in policy and the resulting publicity including the partisan rancor, public exchange failures and the press attempting to decipher the complexity, the consumer has heard more about healthcare in the last year than they have in the previous 25 combined. I’ll bet that the 10 million consumers who purchased a policy on the exchanges to date in 2015 have a significantly better understanding of their health benefits and responsibilities than they did just a few years ago. Consumers are just beginning to do our job and are engaging with new tools and information that will help us maximize health and minimize cost.
Regardless of whether Obamacare is part of a party’s platform, to the degree that it has helped bring in new (disruptive) money, focused leaders on a significant problem and engaged consumers en masse to make better choices is a good start. Capitalism, leadership and consumerism are powerful forces to unleash in our economic system. Ten years from now, we will look back and wonder how it could have been any other way.
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