This year many Americans are experiencing the joys and frustrations of having health insurance for the first time. As a result of the health insurance mandate created by the Affordable Care Act all Americans are legally obligated to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. Since the ACA was signed into law an estimated 15 million Americans have insurance that weren’t covered before. That brings the total uninsured adults in the US from 18% to 13.4%.
It should be no surprise then that nearly one-fifth of all spending in the United States is currently devoted to health care. In fact, the US spends more on health care per capita than any other nation in the world. Sadly, all of that spending still finds us ranking last or near last in access, efficiency, equity and healthy lives.
How is that?
In a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, “Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America’s Business Leaders”, CEOs of some of the nation’s most prominent corporations are exploring just how a nation spending so much can still be so unhealthy, but more importantly, how innovation might be the key to changing those statistics.
One clue as to our high expenditures can be found in chronic illness. In fact Eighty-four percent of our healthcare spending is associated with individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. This type of statistic points to an increasingly unhealthy population which of course leads to “decreased quality of life, premature death, and disability for American citizens, and also threatens the ability of U.S. businesses to effectively compete in a global marketplace.”
The business leaders behind the report are already implementing a three-prong approach to course correct these trends:
- Improve the health and wellness of individuals;
- Improve the health of communities; and
- Improve the health care system.
One of the CEOs behind the report, Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon Chairman and CEO, shares the work Verizon is doing to course correct. Under the pillar of “Improving the Health and Wellness of Individuals” the company is engaging and empowering employees with interactive education and support tools, easily accessible preventive care, and chronic care management programs to improve health outcomes.
As a leader in the technology field Verizon is deploying technology-enabled, mobile health clinics to connect children to quality health care as a part of its Improving the Health of Communities action plan. They are also using remote monitoring tools to enable underserved seniors with chronic conditions, as well as levering technology to improve chronic disease management among underserved women.
They aren’t just improving the health of their employees and the surrounding community, but also using it’s vast wireless network to provide coverage for online care and investing in the expansion of its network in order to deliver enabling technologies in areas currently underserved by both healthcare and broadband.
For African American and Latino populations, for which heart disease is the number one and two (respectively) leading cause of death, these investments in technology and innovation to fight chronic illness will be life altering and health improving. For private sector companies like Verizon and other members of the Bipartisan Policy Council who – together with their employees – bear about 45 percent of the nation’s health care costs, investing in innovation as a means to improve healthcare is also good for business.
For more information on the innovative efforts being taken to improve healthcare you can download the report here.