Health care is a very personal experience. When faced with an acute injury or disease where you need immediate comprehensive care or a chronic condition with ongoing care or medications, only then do you know if you have access to the specialists you need, can afford your medicines, and understand the costs of your premiums and deductibles.
Add to this the pace at which health care innovation is happening and it is difficult for the various health care stakeholders, including payers and providers, to keep up with it all. One example is in the treatment of cancer. The development of immunotherapy is changing the way cancer specialists are delivering care for their patients, yet the costs are astronomical. This can lead to inequities in care. It has been reported recently that patients are having to make tough decisions about keeping up with their drug regimens because of the financial strain.
As medicine continues to deliver better treatments and procedures, finding ways to get people access to care, as well as being able to afford their care, will become paramount.
The economic significance of health care to the Garden State is immense. New Jersey’s hospitals and health systems pumped $23.4 billion into the state’s economy in 2016, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association’s “2017 Hospitals Economic Impact Report,” putting it among the top five largest industries in the state.
Additionally, the NJHA’s report stated hospitals and health systems employed nearly 144,000, including more than 120,000 full-time jobs. The total payroll for all of the employees was roughly $9 billion in 2016, and these jobs generated $496 million in estimated state income tax, an increase from $8.7 billion and $483 million, respectively, in 2015.
Understanding the value it has to the state, is there a way to get the state’s health care stakeholders to find a way to communicate and understand each other’s challenges and address costs? Right now, the various health care stakeholders will acknowledge in private that elements of health care costs have gotten out of control, yet there is not much in the way of open dialogue between pharma, health systems and payers.
This lack of communication across these different health care silos is just allowing the inertia to continue. So, how do we get everyone talking?
How about a panel made up of retired health care CEOs? Veterans of their respective industries can bring gravitas to the discussion, and can be candid in their dialogue. At the very least, this can be the beginning of a discussion that can lead to innovative solutions to controlling costs.
As we are a country of invention, let's find those methods to be able to continue to deliver a high level of care but do so in a way so that everyone’s personal experience with health care is an equal one.
John Parkinson is managing editor of NJBIZ.