Article Categories Health-and-Fitness Healthcare-Systems

Health Care Reform And Personalization: Will Healthcare Services Change?

By: Maureen Young

What does health care reform mean to you? It might be better coverage if you can't afford healthcare; It might mean higher deductibles and prices if you already have health insurance; Perhaps it means complicated changes to existing healthcare plans, insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and the confusion and delays of the Healthcare Marketplace to find a plan that works for you and that you can afford. One thing that it could mean for all of us is the personalization of healthcare.

When you go into a retail store to purchase something but you don't know exactly where to look or what the right choice is, who do you ask? Generally people ask the retail sales associate.

The expectation is that they will know not only where the product is in the store, but the best purpose for it and how to use it. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey, the "Retail Buying Experience", we are more often than not disappointed. 2 out of 5 consumers become frustrated because the sales associate doesn't have the expertise to guide them toward the right product for their specific needs. The survey findings really point to one word: personalization. What does "personalization" have to do with choosing medical services?

We will all be required to be smarter consumers of healthcare because more of us will be opting for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in order to cut costs on rising healthcare costs and insurance premiums. The Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance companies cover basic preventive care services and tests which weren't previously covered. Both companies and individuals may have already seen their premiums and costs rise due to these requirements. The individual responsibility mandate that everyone must purchase health insurance will push young, healthy individuals to seek out the least expensive options; frequently the HDHPs.

If you have been just going along with what your plan covers, now is the time to become more selective in the healthcare choices we make. You may want to be more proactive with your own individual wellness in an effort to stay healthier and keep your insurance premiums and health-related costs down. You may also choose to have lab tests whether they are covered by your insurance or not because you believe you need the information they will provide to measure and monitor your health. Independent labs may have medical assistants who are knowledgeable about the tests that they provide and can guide consumers to the ones that may be the most appropriate for their circumstances. If the lab test results are "abnormal" or "out-of-range", you will be encouraged to then see your physician, but this may help you to avoid costs that aren't needed.

Personalization of all services, but specifically medical services, will be a major trend for 2014, not only at drug stores and big box stores, but at your doctor's office and your chosen lab testing facility. A "one size fits all" approach is no longer the norm as many of us are forced to adapt to stricter healthcare budgets.

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