Buying health insurance in the U.S. is not yet as straightforward as other consumer purchases, but that is changing. Health systems in Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand are far ahead of us in offering consumer choice and addressing health disparities.
Debbie Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer, Network Health
By this time next week, Debbie Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer for Network Health, will be in Singapore study how that country's healthcare system engages consumers. Gordon, who is one of nine 2013 Eisenhower Fellows, is also traveling to Australia and New Zealand during a five-week intense study of healthcare systems in other countries. The intent is to discover what the U.S. can learn from them.
Gordon leads the marketing efforts of the Medford, MA–based nonprofit health plan, which provides comprehensive health coverage for 215,000 state residents.
"There are market forces and government regulatory forces coming together, for example [health insurance] exchanges, and the rise of high deductible health plans," says Gordon. "All these things seem to put a lot of responsibility on consumers. So, my quest was to find countries or systems I could study that have not only mastered the cost and quality equation, but [have done so] specifically through the consumer angle."
In Singapore, which has recently been held up as a model of lower-cost, higher-quality healthcare, consumers have higher co-pays and are required to maintain an individual health savings account to help pay for their healthcare.