What exactly is “consumerization of healthcare?” Put simply, it’s a broad shift in focus from the healthcare market as a whole to individual healthcare consumers. Traditionally, health plan sponsors have had the biggest influence on where their members go for care and what medical services will be paid for. But that could be changing as individual consumers seek healthcare in new forms -- and pay for it themselves.
According to health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (author of HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen), high deductibles and co-insurance have forced patients to become consumers. She says, “They are looking for two things as they make their spending choices: value (getting the most for their money) and values (what’s meaningful and important to them).”
And the market is responding. Health-related products and services are emerging within retail, technology and consumer packaged goods spaces to address individual consumer health needs. Here are three types of health products that people are increasingly choosing to purchase outside of their health plans, seeking value and values.
So what does the consumerization of health mean for employer-sponsored plans? Possible paths forward include:
At the very least, the market is challenging us all to think differently about how we offer, communicate and manage health benefits. A good place to start is a review of your current benefits using the lens of the consumer – “value” and “values” – as noted above. How do your plans score?