For many people that were born in the late Generation X age group (1975 or later) and beyond, we are entering into an economic situation that this group has never really experienced. We are seeing soaring interest rates, rising inflation, and medical costs that have reached monumental levels. I can remember hearing about runaway inflation as a teenager and my most vivid memory of that time was watching the price of gasoline jump from $0.25/gallon to $0.75/gallon. Those prices only affected me because gasoline was about my only recurring expense.
My first real experience with interest rates was when the first house I ever bought was refinanced at a lower interest rate. I bought the house at 11.5% interest on a 30-year mortgage. I refinanced the house at 9% interest three years later. The refinanced loan kept the payments the same, reduced my mortgage by 15 years, and had my property taxes all escrowed into that same dollar amount monthly payment that I had been paying!
Health care costs have been rising for a number of years now. We have seen premiums (the amount you or your employer pays for you to have health insurance) go through the roof. This results in people moving away from the bigger quality names in insurance to more “fly by night” carriers. The problems that arise when dealing with these insurance carriers make both doctor and patient wonder if the lower price was really worth it. We are also seeing deductibles amounts rise (the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company starts to pay your bill) as well as the copays (the amount you pay out of pocket at the time of the office visit) skyrocket as well. On top of all these insurance costs, the insurance is covering less and less, and the doctor fees are going up.
We have seen wages go up, but having lived through these situations before, I can tell you that the wages NEVER keep pace with the rising costs. This means that as a consumer we have to be looking for ways to make our dollar go farther. We need to become sharp shoppers, we need to not be frivolous with our money, we need value!
The idea of value in health care is a little tough to wrap our minds around. We have all been trained to believe that health care providers are almost saint like because they help us keep well. I am about to reveal to you health care’s dirty little secret. We are in health care to make money! Yes, I can honestly say that I really have a tremendous desire to help people, but I am just like everyone else. I would like to have a bigger income. But, I am also caught in the inflationary spiral. As a health care provider my costs of doing business are rising too. This bigger amount that I pay for my goods and services gets passed along to you as a patient in the form of higher prices.
So, how are we going to find that allusive value point that makes both of us happy? The easiest place to look, and often the first place the medical provider will point to to justify cost, is the value of your health. You will hear statements like, “How can you put a dollar value on your health?” or “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”. These are very true statements, but the reality is in America there are many people that are making a choice every day between their medication or their supper. These choices become even more significant if you are providing for children of supporting elderly parents.
If you stop and think about it, finding value for your dollar comes down to making a choice. Is the price that is being charged to me worth the exchange of my dollar or what I get in return. Your health is always what is offered by your health care provider regardless of inflation or good economic times. That doesn’t change, so how can that be used as a measure of value?
If we agree that a choice to spend in these tough economic times is how value will be determined, we arrive at the idea that value comes from the quality of the services we get from our health care provider. The better the quality of the services, the better the value. Makes sense, right? So, if that is the case, and the health care service that is provided should always be the same, we need to find quality in more than just the medical service. That value of the medical service will always remain the same. When we are in economic times like these, we are looking for increased value to entice us to spend. What can be offered by the health care provider to increase value?
The answer to this conundrum is found in meeting the patient’s wants. If I give you not only what you need, but in addition I give you what you want, have I not increased the value of the service I am providing? True value is found in meeting the patient’s needs (which is what I have to do anyway as a health care provider) but also in providing the patient with meeting as many of their wants as possible.
What is it that patients want from their health care providers? The list here is long but let’s start with just convenient hours, readily available appointment times, short waiting room times, and a pleasant staff. The more important wants by patients include having the ability to spend more time with their doctor, having all their questions answered, and having explanations of conditions made so simple that a 5th grader can understand them. These “wants” were all derived from a recent Google search I performed. By the way, to show you how important these “wants” are to patients, the number one reason Google reported that people change doctors is that they felt their doctor was not listening to them! Talk about a want!
Putting this all together we find that the best value for a health care dollar is found with a provider that really provides great health care but also listens to the patient, spends time explaining what is wrong, respects the patient’s time by being on time themselves, and really making sure that the patient understands everything that is going on with each visit. That is our passion at Weber Chiropractic! I want to meet all of your needs, but also serve you by meeting as many of your wants as I possibly can. In fact, I actually guarantee that Weber Chiropractic will meet more of your wants than you ever thought possible by a health care provider.
In fact, if you don’t believe me, I challenge you to call me at 724-285-9093 and schedule an appointment right now. I promise you won’t be disappointed by the value you find!