"From where I sit, in a health plan that serves a predominantly lower income and heavily minority population… I thought, 'I'd really like to go and learn how they are approaching these disparities in their population,' and the role that consumer empowerment has in that context," she explains.
Gordon will spend the bulk of her trip in Australia. She cites the vast size of the country as the main reason for spending about four weeks there versus one week in Singapore. Already, she has meetings lined up with hospitals and health plans as well as advocacy organizations and government officials.
"I think that we need to start thinking about our industry as a consumer industry and then approaching consumers as if we were selling computers, or smartphones, or clothing, or food, or consumer products that we are accustomed to shopping for," says Gordon. "We need to teach consumers how to shop for it [healthcare]; we need to establish mechanisms to enable that. And it's really about reframing our industry as a consumer market."
While buying health insurance is not as straightforward —yet —as buying an electronic gadget off the shelf, Gordon believes there are already products on the market that serve as a model for healthcare, such as car insurance or buying a house. One thing that is certain, says Gordon, is that health insurance exchanges will expedite the rise of consumer empowerment.