Consumers want and deserve better access to healthcare, good outcomes and more value for the money they spend on healthcare. Yet our health system is wasteful, expensive and the quality of care is uneven. High costs and coverage gaps make affordable care out of reach for far too many people.
This report captures a high-level overview of the unique convening of 84 state and national healthcare advocates and policy experts working to improve access to high-value healthcare for consumers. The Consumer Reports Healthcare Value Hub conducted the Nov. 9-11, 2016, convening in New Orleans.
Held immediately following the presidential election, attendees were uniquely positioned to reflect upon an historic inflection point with respect to how citizens get and pay for their healthcare. The outgoing administration enacted important reforms aimed at expanding health insurance coverage and enacting new consumer protections affecting how consumers buy health insurance and shop for healthcare services. Significant reforms and pilots explored ways to improve value for our nation’s healthcare dollar. The incoming administration promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but also to replace it with something better.
The conference theme was finding our common ground on the strategies that get us to better healthcare value. Acknowledging that local market conditions may require customization of access and affordability solutions, attendees worked to identify policies applicable for most markets to protect consumers.
Attendees devoted significant time to discussing the critical issue of protecting insurance coverage expansions and the recent consumer protections against poor quality and unaffordable care. Advocates emphasized that the access problems and other consumer harms that our health system can inflict are “bipartisan” in the sense that they affect consumer regardless of political party.
Despite the fear of reversal of these consumer protections, attendees also saw opportunities ahead to make improvements to a health system that is still too expensive and out of reach for far too many consumers.
Advocates highlighted opportunities for consumer engagement; profiling policy evidence and consumer harms with legislators; strengthening existing collaborations with stakeholder groups at the local, state and national level; and using the forthcoming debate about our nation’s healthcare system to enact new healthcare value protections for consumers. Resource needs were also identified, including increasing polling research to make consumer engagement and mobilization more effective.