Consumer Panel Convenes in Portland for #RealHCTalk

June 14, 2016

On June 8, a panel of six health care consumers assembled to share their experiences with health care and possible solutions for the frustrating circumstances they faced. An ongoing series of panels hosted by HealthSparq, this #RealHCTalk event was kicked off with the following ask of the panelists: “In one word, describe your experience with health care.”

To no surprise, the responses included the words “frustrating,” “complicated” and “backwards.” One woman chose the word “blessed,” and later explained that she feels fortunate to have had consistently good health coverage in her lifetime. Some of the other people did not share this experience, and have faced seemingly impossible decisions when it comes to managing their health care and coverage.

Ken has a mother who was diagnosed with cancer and had already begun skipping some of her doctor appointments to avoid costs. Jessica had to take her husband to more than four providers and sites of care before he was diagnosed with an ankle infection and had emergency surgery. Deanne avoided seeing a provider for three months while she was in between health plans because she had started a new job. Corey left his job in order to qualify for Medicaid and better afford his son’s $10,000 treatments for an autoimmune disorder. Scenarios like these are not unfamiliar to the American health care consumer.

The group was next posed with questions about solutions that could have improved these experiences. Suggestions varied from privatizing health care to shifting the American culture around food and exercise.

One thing was clear: these consumers wanted resources to help them with their health care. When Jessica was asked whether she would use online tools to help her with health care decisions if she had access to them, she definitively answered yes. What about a personal health advocate she could call? Yes again. Ken said he used Google to get answers to his health care questions and to compare cost and quality of different services.

Many of the resources that the group expressed interest in are solutions offered by HealthSparq and Cambia’s other Direct Health Solutions companies. For example, HealthSparq offers online shopping tools for health services including out-of-pocket costs. Cambia continues to drive these solutions forward to create better health care experiences for these panelists and the millions of consumers like them.