Texas and the surrounding states make up the region that is least likely to vote for a candidate based on their healthcare agenda, according to PwC’s annual report about the top issues in the healthcare industry.
For many of the other questions in the survey about diversity of workforce and the impact of healthcare mergers, Texas’ region fell at or near the middle. For a state as big and diverse as Texas, being in the middle makes sense, says Ben Isgur, leader of PwC’s Health Research Institute.
But North Texas is on the extreme when it comes to price and uninsured rate. Texas and Dallas have some of the worst health insurance rates in the country. Isgur drew a connection between Texas’ high uninsured rate and the high prices in North Texas. “Texans don’t use healthcare more than others; it comes down to our pricing,” he says.
The high prices, including expensive and growing fields of gene and cell therapies mean that employers and consumers of healthcare have to get creative about how to pay for healthcare. Top strategies included directing patients to lower cost providers, payment plans without interest, credit cards for healthcare, and even offering loans to patients with a zero interest payback plan. Many patients who receive a $10,000 bill are not going to pay any of that bill, but if they are approached with a manageable payment plan, providers are more likely to be paid, Isgur says.
He noted the growth of onsite or near-site clinics as a way to reduce healthcare costs and addressing social determinants as ways employers are looking at getting a hold on costs. “Employers are left paying the freight when it comes to healthcare costs,” he says. Direct contracts, centers of excellence, and other methods are “definitely in the game when it comes to employer activism.”
Providing incentive for employees to do more shopping for their healthcare is another piece of the puzzle. Avoiding hospital and free standing emergency rooms, finding providers who bundle care, or even post their prices, utilizing tele-health, and shopping for planned surgeries are keys for employers looking to cut their healthcare spend. Shopping for generic drugs as opposed to high-priced name brand versions is another strategy, but it isn’t easy. “If you want to reduce those barriers, guide employee and provide incentives,” Isgur says.