While the duck is recovering from his injuries, Aflac has released a press release and a report on the state of readiness of American workers covered under employer-sponsored, consumer-driven health care plans, according to the Physicians for a National Health Plan “Quote-of-the-Day” newsletter.
The press release mentions a recent Aflac survey that reveals that employees are not prepared for increased costs, and may not want control of their options, and lack education about what is meant by “consumer-driven health care.”
The report finds that employees are not financially prepared, and that:
- Only 24 percent of workers completely agree or strongly agree they will be financially prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency or serious illness.
- Further, 46 percent of employees have less than $1,000 to be able to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident, and 25 percent of employees have less than $500.
- Four-in-ten (40 percent) workers would have to borrow from their 401(k), friends and family to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident; 28 percent would have to use a credit card.
The report also states that:
- Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the workforce have not heard of the phrase “consumer-driven health care;”
- More than half (54 percent) of workers would prefer not to have greater control over their insurance options because they don’t have the time or knowledge to effectively manage it;
- 62 percent of workers believe the medical costs they will be responsible for will increase, while only 23 percent are saving money for potential increases;
- 75 percent of workers said they think their employer would educate them about changes to their health care coverage as a result of reform, but only 13 percent of employers said educating employees about health care reform was important to their organization.
Lastly, the report found that among consumers of health care plans:
- 32 percent are not very/not at all knowledgeable about health savings accounts (HSA)
- Three out of four (76 percent) are not very/not at all knowledgeable about federal and state health care exchanges
- Almost half (49 percent) are not very/not at all knowledgeable about health reimbursement accounts
- 25 percent are not very/not at all knowledgeable about flex spending accounts (FSA)
If American workers are unprepared financially to assume a greater portion of their health care spending, and if they are not aware of what “consumer-driven health care” is, nor are they interested in having control, what does this say about the state of the US healthcare system after January 1, 2014?
And more importantly, what does it mean for medical tourism, which is generally consumer-driven, and relies on patients to seek out medical tourism destinations as they would destinations for any other tourism?
For the workers’ compensation industry, this could mean cost-shifting from employer-sponsored health care plans for certain health care issues to workers’ compensation, which has happened from my personal knowledge of a subrogation company that recovers payments made by health care insurers, when the claim was actually covered under workers’ compensation. This would hasten the day medical tourism is implemented into workers’ compensation, so that employers and carriers can take advantage of the lower costs of medical care abroad.
While cost-shifting may happen, it is unlikely as most carriers would deny coverage for many claims that are routinely covered under health care, but would become financially unavailable to most employees because they are unprepared, or because their employer will want the employee to share the cost.
Whatever happens, medical tourism could see a sharp increase in business in the next few years.