By Clive Riddle, January 3, 2014
The just released January 2014 issue of Medical Home News includes a profile of Paul Keckley, PhD, in which he is asked this question: “Looking back on your years as a health care analyst, what has been this country’s major achievement and what has been its greatest disappointment in terms of health care delivery?” His answer: “Greatest disappointment: the consumer is ignorant about the health system, even after all the fuss for and against health reform. Greatest positive: data-driven healthcare!!”
In August 2013, Kaiser Family Foundation released new survey results that the Wall Street Journal summarized as: Consumers Remain Baffled By Health Law, Poll Shows. At the end of the year, things got no better. Consider findings from a December 2013 Consumer Reports survey of consumers regarding the Affordable Care Act which found:
- 38% of respondents indicated they felt LESS informed over the course of the past month.
- 48% thought the ACA established a government-run health plan
- 36% thought the new law allowed the government to control their selection of doctors
- 30% believed the law set up government panels that would dictate decisions about end-of-life care
- One-quarter or less of respondents correctly identified the above as false statements.
But Paul Keckley’s point wasn’t just that consumers are confused about reform – rather that they are confused about the entire system, in spite of reform. And there a plethora of survey results previously cited in mcolblog postings to back that up.
It is difficult to engage someone who is confused, and ignorant about the system. The consumer might feel as if they are in the scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, confronted with a hundred different goblets, with only one being the true Holy Grail, as they try to navigate their health choices, and fear that the Guardian of the Holy Grail won’t be telling them that they “have chosen wisely.”