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A Letter to Healthcare Providers from a Consumer

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 8, 2014

I don't see my demands as unreasonable. I am merely asking the healthcare sector – a $2.8 trillion industry that consumes nearly 20% of the gross domestic product – to be as accountable and transparent with it products as any other retail industry.

Here's where I get unreasonable: Even if you deliver on transparency, quality, access and price, I may not pay you.

Maybe I am a deadbeat who never had any intention of paying you. It's more likely that I simply can't afford it. A $5,000 deductible might not seem like a lot of money to docs and healthcare executives with six-figure incomes. However, the median income in the United States in 2012 was about $51,000 and the $5,000 deductible that comes out of my pocket represents at least 10% of my gross pay.

I switched to the high-deductible plan for its lower premiums and as protection against a catastrophic illness or injury. I'm rolling the dice on everything else. So we'd better come to some E-Z credit terms on a payment plan. You've already provided the service, which takes away almost all of your leverage and gives me less incentive to pay. If the haggling gets nasty, you can send bill collectors after me, but they'll probably have to wait in line.

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10 comments on "A Letter to Healthcare Providers from a Consumer"


Jane Orient (1/20/2014 at 1:01 PM)
YOu are welcome as a patient if you value my services. I expect honesty and transparency from patients also.

Stephen E. Galya (1/17/2014 at 8:17 PM)
I was quite disappointed by Mr. Commins statement about physician assistants, and not physician's assistant as he put it. This gentleman obviously has no idea of the training PA's go though, or what they are capable of doing. I have been a PA for 21 years, and currently work in family practice, and manage patients with hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, and other chronic conditions. We as PA's work hard, and research has shown that patients are at times more satisfied with our care than MD's. A truly hurtful and disappointing statement. This man should have done some research.

G Constantinopolos, MD, MBA (1/14/2014 at 10:12 PM)
Transparency and communication is a must indeed. However we must all speak the same language. Too many people in this country consider healthcare a social "good" which they are entitled to as it is the right to walk in a house workship and pray. But the providers see it as a market " good" for which a financial transaction is due. Physicians are not a commodity as the insurance plans seem to believe. The time is coming when you will have to pay a good premium to select a physician who is an expert in his field. As a consumer you know you get what you pay for. But I would also agree that the unchallenged super inflated hospital charges should come to an end. It is now clear that hospitals are big profitable businesses with little if any concern to their captive customer base. They can not operate within the non profit arena trying to compete with the private practitioners who have supportersd them through the good and bad times Hospitals and their highly paid administrators offer no care, they just facilitate, it is the physicians who do that !