nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Most Employers Don't Address Quality In Choosing Health Plans.

This is what happens when others make healthcare insurance decisions for you...and you don't take charge of your medical care.

Assume your employer looks at quality in choosing a health plan?  The data from a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that more often than not they don't:
Just 34% of firms employing at least 200 people and 5% of firms employing between 3 and 199 people reported reviewing performance indicators of plans’ clinical and service quality.  And of those that did so, 49% said the info was at least somewhat influential on their plan selection. (WSJ Health Blog, Sep 3)
It's not clear why this is the case, or what other factors were important.  But, you can bet that price played an important role.

Nostrums has always been dubious of healthcare decision-making that isn't conducted by the recipient themselves.  Who better knows the unique needs and desires of the individual...than the individual themselves?

There are mechanisms to check on the quality of your healthcare.  You don't have to rely on your employer, or Congress for that matter.  These organizations look for a uniform answer; one that may not be your answer, trusting that the company or political process will be their advocate.

Where can you the patient look to judge quality?  There are online databases.  One option: the National Committee for Quality Assurance health plan report card.  The Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality publishes data and surveys on quality.  Your insurer may have a website that includes data on customer satisfaction and a report card.  Check out WhyNotTheBest  from the Commonwealth Fund.  Medicare runs a website called Hospital Compare.  Consumer Reports and Angie's List have entered the field with feedback from patients on individual doctors and hospitals; some of their work is useful.  Some is unfiltered, and has the same utility as blog comments.  But expect these to get better.

Transparency is key, and the opportunities to make your own decision on quality are expanding all the time.  The alternative is to accept somebody else's idea of what you want.

For some reason, everybody understands that when you buy a car or a refrigerator you need to be a smart consumer, but with healthcare you have to just take it as it comes. 

Not true.  You can be an advocate for yourself.

Doc D

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