The adage, “You get what you pay for” works in many parts
of the consumer economy. Sadly, that's not the case in healthcare. Part of the
problem, as we outlined before, is the cost. And another part of the problem is
patients paying for what they don't need - something we will address in the
Yet a huge and often under-reported problem is the millions
of patients who do not get care that they actually do need. People
call this “under-utilization,” which is really just a fancy way of saying
you're not signing up for some important yet often inexpensive treatments that
can keep you well.
According to the Center for Disease Control and
use preventive services about half the time they should. There are real
health consequences to this neglect, and it is putting people in danger.
For example, nearly 10,000 deaths from pneumonia could be prevented each year
with a one-time vaccination. Yet
about 40 percent of those 65 and older fail to get the shot. Vaccination
rates for infants and children are much higher, but the stories
about measles outbreaks in recent years prove we still have a ways to go to
make sure the little ones get these essential shots.
showed that only one in
20 women are consistently getting an annual breast cancer screening
mammogram, even though regular mammograms are clearly associated with
reduced risk of death from breast cancer.
It's clear that many people
miss out on simple steps that are proven to improve long-term health. In future
posts, we'll talk about what Premera is doing to encourage vaccinations and
proven cancer screenings
What We Want For Patients
Here at Premera, we'd actually like it if our members didn't have to think
about these problems at all. Our purpose is to help solve them so people don't
have to think about these things when they go to the doctor's office. Instead,
they can focus on being a patient and getting well.
MD, MPH is the Executive Vice President of Healthcare Services