If Ms. Totten and Mr. Hirshberg are correct, the potential for health care savings is huge. A study in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs concluded that 75 percent of the country’s $2.5 trillion in health care spending has to do with four increasingly prevalent chronic diseases: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Most cases of these diseases, the report stated, are preventable because they are caused by behaviors like poor diets, inadequate exercise and smoking. Obesity alone threatens to overwhelm the system. In a recent study, Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, found that if trends continued, annual health care costs related to obesity would total $344 billion by 2018, or more than 20 percent of total health care spending. (It now accounts for 9 percent.) Dr. Thorpe also said that if the incidence of obesity fell to its 1987 level, it would free enough money to cover the nation’s uninsured population.

Health Care Savings May Start in Employee Diets – NYTimes.com (via evangotlib)

Saving healthcare will start with individuals taking responsibility for their own lives and improving their behavior.

I have no desire to scale up or get bigger. My desire is to produce the best food in the world. And if in doing so, more people come to our corner and want stuff, then heaven help me figure out how to meet the need without compromising the integrity.
As soon as you grasp for that growth, you’re gonna view your customer differently, you’re gonna view your product differently, you’re gonna view your business differently. Everything that is the most important – you’re going to view that differently.

A clinic with two doors– the future of healthcare in America.

At the Lenox Hill clinic, on the insurance side, Helen waited 15 days to get an appointment. On the day of her mammogram, she stood in line at the reception desk in a crowded waiting room. An elderly patient wandered the reception area in her hospital gown, pleading for someone to help her. In the changing room, Helen’s gown was the usual thin seersucker. The technician was friendly and efficient, though Helen didn’t see a doctor. She went home not knowing whether she was healthy or not, and waited nine days for her results. But it was good news, a clean bill of health. Though the list price was $350, Helen’s insurance paid the clinic $140 and she paid nothing, because her health insurance covers preventive care such as mammography. At the Private Imaging clinic — the boutique side — Linda was able to get an appointment in two days. She was greeted immediately in the private reception area. She changed into a comfy spa robe. Her technician was also friendly and efficient, then the doctor read the scan after a few minutes, reassuring her, “Your mammogram’s negative. Nothing to worry about. See you next year.” Linda walked out carrying a copy of her X-rays. Linda wrote a check to the clinic for $350; if she’d had the same insurance plan as Helen, Linda’s net cost would have been $210.

This is the future folks. If you use insurance (whether public or private), you’ll be treated like a number, you’ll have to wait for rationed care, and you’ll get the same old poor quality, inefficient sickcare from massive institutions that care more about profiting off your sickness than maximizing your health.

If you pay cash (remember, 85% of America spends less than $5,000 on healthcare usage in a given year), you’ll get a well designed customer service experience and high quality, informative, communicative healthcare.

The faster we can pull our money out of the traditional health insurance game and start spending that money on purchasing healthcare as we need it, the faster the sick care industry will fall. Become true consumers by purchasing high deductible, catastrophic plans and watch what your money will buy you. Put the difference you save in monthly premiums in a bank account and build a buffer. Invest it and make interest on that money for when you get old and your health fails. Stop throwing it away to monopolies who care nothing about you and your health. (Remember…Let’s say you’re a 22-year-old single employee at my company today, starting out at a $30,000 annual salary. Let’s assume you’ll get married in six years, support two children for 20 years, retire at 65, and die at 80. Now let’s make a crazy assumption: insurance premiums, Medicare taxes and premiums, and out-of-pocket costs will grow no faster than your earnings—say, 3 percent a year. By the end of your working days, your annual salary will be up to $107,000. And over your lifetime, you and your employer together will have paid $1.77 million for your family’s health care. $1.77 million! And that’s only after assuming the taming of costs! In recent years, health-care costs have actually grown 2 to 3 percent faster than the economy. If that continues, your 22-year-old self is looking at an additional $2 million or so in expenses over your lifetime—roughly $4 million in total.)

Critics will say this theory is anti-social. I will say you can’t have both. You must sacrifice either experience, communication and accessbility in exchange for “everyone being financially covered.” Is it more important that we’re all financially covered for sick care or is it more important to receive high quality, communicative, accessible health care?

The future of healthcare in America should be about a true consumer-centric health experience. Monopolies don’t care about experience. You can’t have a  health experience with insurance– you aren’t the customer paying the doctor. They’ve proven that with 50 years of history. If you pay the doctor directly, you are purchasing good communication and understanding from a reliable consultant who can help you optimize your health. If you don’t get this from one doctor, you have the freedom to go anywhere else and give your hard-earned money to a doctor who does provide that experience.

A clinic with two doors– the future of healthcare in America.

Aspen Design Summit Report: Mayo Clinic and Rural Health Care Delivery

For those of you interested in what our design team did in Aspen to create a program to improve rural healthcare delivery in Minnesota, check out the link.

I think its got a ton of potential and I’m looking forward to it. One of my contributions was quickly sketching out a potential website for this community platform. I do all of my storyboarding in Keynote. It’s more like Illustrator Lite. I lifted the photo of the woman from David Lynch’s Interview Project…an inspiration for the web component in this project for Mayo Clinic.

Aspen Design Summit Report: Mayo Clinic and Rural Health Care Delivery

Insurance Industry Antitrust Fight Headed To Conference Committee

There are laws that everyone must follow. And there are companies exempt from laws everyone else must follow.

And our “leaders” may mandate that we purchase insurance from an industry that picks and chooses which laws they want to follow by buying our elected leaders.

Harry Reid:

“Insurance companies have become so large they dominate entire regions of the country,” he said. “They have become so powerful they block start-up businesses from entering the market, and they put smaller companies out of business. They have become so dominant that they dictate business practices. They are so influential that they exert tremendous influence over public policy.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP):

“Health insurance is one of the most regulated industries in America at both the federal and state level. McCarran-Ferguson has nothing to do with competition in the health insurance market.”

Translation: Because we have some laws we abide by, we can pay so we don’t have to abide by all of them.

Insurance Industry Antitrust Fight Headed To Conference Committee