Health Literacy to Address Rising Health Care Costs

By Jason Resendez, CQC Board Member and Community Advocate

Americans are increasingly alarmed about rising health care costs. A recent Consumers for Quality Care (CQC)/Ipsos survey revealed that Americans worry more about paying for health care than they worry about costs associated with retirement, college, housing or child care.

Insurance policies and billing procedures can lead to surprise medical bills, emergency department coverage denials and increased costs for prescription drugs but it is often difficult to know what to look for when trying to avoid increased costs. During Health Literacy Month, CQC launched www.consumers4qualitycare.org/healthliteracy with information on aspects of health care coverage that can add costs to consumers’ care, and tips on how to address them.

Some of the potential issues consumers should be on the lookout for now and throughout the year include:

· Surprise medical bills like the $34,000 bill a Virginia family got when their teenage son was treated at an in-network hospital by an out-of-network “plastic surgeon on call” after being hit in the nose by a baseball.

· Emergency department coverage denials like Anthem’s denial of a $12,000 bill in Frankfort, Kentucky, when Brittany Cloyd’s suspected appendicitis turned out to be ovarian cysts, leaving her to cover the full sum.

· Changes to drug copay coupon policies that make it harder for patients living with chronic diseases to afford their medications.

With open enrollment season right around the corner, now is the right time for consumers to examine their current policies and determine whether a change is needed. Whether consumers get their health insurance through their employer, Healthcare.gov, Medicare or another source, this is the one opportunity we all have each year to review our coverage.

Americans need and want greater upfront transparency about what health plans do and do not cover and the costs they will incur. Consumers can download CQC’s fact sheet to better understand loopholes in their coverage, avoid needless additional health care costs and learn more about what to do if they encounter these policies in their health care plans. Knowing what to look for can help health care consumers make better choices and ensure their health — both physical and financial — is in good shape.

To learn more about Consumers for Quality Care, please visit https://consumers4qualitycare.org/.

Consumers for Quality Care works to ensure patients — and their right to high-quality health care — remain at the front of the health care debate.

Consumers for Quality Care works to ensure patients — and their right to high-quality health care — remain at the front of the health care debate.