There is no doubt that the U.S. Healthcare system is in double, perhaps triple, jeopardy; to coin a popular legal phrase used to get the point across that the situation is dire. The statistics should be very familiar to everyone in the health and healthcare industry both in the U.S. and abroad. The 50 million uninsured1 U.S. residents is a testimony to a system that is clearly not meeting the needs of those most in need. Health care costs are expected to increase an average of 6.8% over the next decade2.
The biggest spender in the healthcare industry is the U.S. government. Medicare accounts for 17% and Medicaid for 16% of all Healthcare spending. More importantly, this trend is expected to increase as millions of baby boomers are expected to enroll in the government’s Medicare program starting in 20113. Private health insurance accounts for 35% of every healthcare dollar spent in the U.S. with the bulk of this cost being borne by U.S. Employers. U.S. Employers are shifting more of the healthcare cost to their employees and many small business owners cannot afford to offer healthcare insurance to their employees.
The healthcare crisis presents abundant opportunity to those offering solutions. The tripod of participants; Healthcare Carriers and Delivery Systems, Large U.S. Employers and the U.S. Government are at a loss on how to bring affordability and access back into the U.S. Healthcare system. Where these three should be working together in order to create a long-term solution, the gravity of the solution has forced them to go solo. And where pressure dictates solutions, as opposed to comprehensive planning, short-term solutions are the only option.
The pressure on Healthcare Carriers to lower costs has resulted in a slew of lower priced, inferior plans that lower costs by cutting benefits, resulting in higher costs to the end user. The cost of employee healthcare for U.S. employers has spawned what I call the “shift mentality”; shifting the costs to the employees. In one case that I am familiar with, a large U.S. employer has actually removed the most popular prescription drug from the offering, in order to lower their healthcare costs. And our government is notably silent in terms of offering any solutions. However, 2008 is an election year, so look for a lot of promises to come from the campaign trails.
My experience lends me to believe that the only long-term solution to the healthcare crisis in America is to take the industry global. By bringing a more affordable, first class supply of healthcare providers together with the demand market that needs those services, the resulting global industry will reach a much needed balance of supply and demand. By that I mean that U.S. employers, individuals and healthcare carriers will have access to a reliable supply of healthcare options that are affordable and accessible, and the end user patient will have the awareness and tools needed to access that supply in a safe and informed manner.
I am not aware of any organization or effort that is better poised to make this healthcare globalization happen than the industry currently referred to as “medical tourism” or “global healthcare”. However, admittedly, there is currently a lack of meaningful long-term investment in this emerging market.
Fortunately, Global Healthcare, of which Medical Tourism is a major component, is a major contributor to the solution that lies at the seat or apex of the tripod referred to earlier. For Physician Groups, Professional Healthcare Givers, and Hospitals seeking to become part of the U.S. Healthcare System solution, they have to market themselves to the healthcare carriers, the large U.S. Employers, and the various State Governments. They should also raise awareness with the U.S. population at large. These organizations should give very strong consideration to engaging the services of a Marketing and Public Relations Consultant who can provide access to these entities.
Does your organization know which states and cities are the most popular retirement locations, from which potential medical tourism customers may come? That over 20% of the U.S. Healthcare dollar is comprised of out of pocket and private spending?2 Which states are at the forefront of healthcare reform, and may be open to global healthcare as a solution? That 27% of baby boomers think they will be eligible for Medicare at an earlier age than they actually will be, and where they currently reside?4.
That Democrats think socialized healthcare would improve the current healthcare situation?5 That California, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts, Kansas, Oregon and Wisconsin have all passed or are considering bills to increase healthcare accessibility to their uninsured residents?6
A savvy marketing and public relations firm can help foreign based organizations and governments penetrate the U.S. Healthcare Market by helping them bridge the communication gap that now exists between the reality that is the current U.S. Healthcare System and the concept of Global Healthcare, which is the reality of the future. A well prepared, professional campaign will work wonders for these organizations and governments.
In order for large U.S. Employers to make global healthcare demands on the U.S. Healthcare Insurance Carriers, they must be absolutely convinced that sending their employees and retirees abroad for healthcare will result in lower costs, satisfied patients, and manageable legal liability exposure. The next time you’re asked the question, :”Are You Ready?”, your answer could be a resounding “Yes!!”.
- U.S. Census
- Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary. National Health Statistics Group
- Economists at the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, forecast
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Survey
- A poll by the Harvard School of Public Health
- Mark Farrah Associates (MFA) recapped the latest state policy initiatives in a recent article published in Healthcare Business Strategy, a popular industry analysis series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With over 17 years experience in Insurance, Marketing and Employee Benefits Management, Alex Piper possesses extensive knowledge of the U.S. Healthcare Market and the influence that Insurance Carriers, U.S. Employers, Hospitals, Physicians, Physician Groups, Healthcare Professional Organizations and Government will have on the next generation of global healthcare.
As an insurance executive at a top Fortune 50 U.S. company, he spent the last eight years designing employee and customer benefits programs including healthcare programs for the large supplier and distribution partner companies of his employer. He was responsible for creating a benefits program that had over U.S.$140 million in assets and had over 1300 companies enrolled. His latest program grew from zero to $40 million in insurance premiums in less than two years!
Alex’s experience also includes the design of marketing communications plans that grew his company 20% annually, and made it the 12th most profitable company in it’s industry in America. His skill set is nicely rounded with his experience in being responsible for complete marketing communication strategy and execution for a growing $156 million company, including public relations, multimedia advertising, event marketing and Internet marketing.
He is President of OneWorld Global Healthcare Solutions, a consulting company committed to creating a worldwide healthcare solution.