by Reggie White, general manager, and national vice president, government & education, Cigna
When you’re feeling sick, you tell the doctor your symptoms. From that information, the doctor can make a diagnosis and map out a treatment plan. The same is true for the health care system as a whole. To find a cure for the complexities that many residents face when navigating the nation’s health care system, we need to first look at the symptoms.
The complexity of health care in the United States often creates a bewildering experience for people that can result in frustration. While they now have more information available about their health care than in the past, they also have more responsibility for the health care choices they make. That can be overwhelming. Plus, only about 12 percent of adults (1) have a proficient level of health literacy, so it’s easy to understand how they can become confused, especially when doctors and health plans communicate using jargon. That creates ambiguity, which can affect decision making, health engagement, and, ultimately, health outcomes and financial security.
It is therefore essential that all of us involved in healthcare work together toward a “cure” that simplifies, educates, and engages—and eventually results in better health and affordability for everyone.
What Consumers Want
People are now looking for trusted partners—specifically, providers and health plans—to help motivate them to become healthier. The Deloitte 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey (2) showed that the top priority for consumers is their personal relationship with their health care provider—a relationship that prioritizes quality, more personal, more informed, affordable care.
If you have ever been treated by a doctor or had a hospital stay, you undoubtedly have received an explanation of benefits (EOB) document that outlines the charges and what you might owe. Can you make heads or tails of it?
Some companies, like Cigna, have made efforts to simplify the EOB so that the information is easy to understand. Communicating clearly and simply is one of the best things that health plans, providers, and employers can all do to make health care simpler for everyone involved.
Putting useful information at people’s fingertips also goes a long way toward simplifying health care. If you need to find a surgeon to operate on your knee, or it’s time for a preventive colonoscopy, wouldn’t it be helpful to have information readily available that lets you compare doctors and hospitals near you based on quality and affordability? More companies are providing this information to consumers on their websites or on apps; for example, myCigna.com or the myCigna mobile app allows consumers to compare drug prices and dental care in addition to other content.
Meeting people where they are and connecting them with what they need is the way to evaluate the value delivered to participants. Cigna, for example, provides a customer decision and support service called Cigna One Guide®. With One Guide, people have access to guided consultations by phone, mobile app, and a “Click-to-Chat” function for help choosing benefits.
To learn more, visit www.cigna.com.
Endnotes and Resources
(1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Fact Sheet,” accessed 11 May 2017.
(2) Health plans: What matters most to the health care consumer, Deloitte’s 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey.
Reggie White is general manager and national vice president, Government & Education, Cigna, an ICMA Strategic Partner. Cigna products and services are offered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Cigna Onsite Health, LLC, or their affiliates. This information is not intended for residents of New Mexico. Copyright 2018 Cigna. All rights reserved.