Insurance vs the rest of us: Does it have to be this way?
Most people realize that the best way to remain healthy is to enact lifestyle principles which incorporate regular diet and exercise. But even if you’re doing this correctly, you will have instances of injury that are either the fault of another or your missteps. They could even be hereditary conditions with a history of late-onset.
Heart disease of some variety has a 1 in 7 chance of killing you while being struck by lightning is one chance over more than 160,000 according to the same statistics. Between these extremes, there are many things likely to facilitate unexpected expiration; some of which health insurance solutions can help you with. Non-fatal wounds, injuries, and sickness are out there, too.
Did you know that around 50,000 people in the US die annually from influenza? Weakness, malnutrition, and a lack of healthcare solutions are part of the reason why.
You want to have some form of insurance for that which cannot be predicted. At least, that’s been the trend over the last several decades in developed countries. Now, getting the right kind of coverage is something easier said than done, and it will cost you money on a monthly basis—in most cases! There are always programs available; it’s just qualifying for them that can be difficult.
If you don’t qualify for a government assistance solution, and you don’t have any healthcare benefits at your place of employment, you can expect to spend between $300 and $3,000 every month depending on the size and scope of your necessary insurance parameters.
It’s not uncommon for a family of three to pay more than $1,000 a month for insurance. This is especially likely if a change in occupation forces a family from an employer insurance plan valued at $25k in expense to the company on an annual basis, for something acquired in the non-corporate market. There may be needs the family has which predicate continued top-tier coverage.
If a family in this situation had an employer who was footing the bill for that insurance, finding it again would require searching among the top-tier options out there. And even if that isn’t being done, according to this statistic mentioned earlier, the average cost of family insurance nationwide is over $800 a month. That’s $9,600+ annually.
But it is possible to pay less—it all depends on what your health insurance needs to end up being in the long run. One of the best ways to ensure you get the right healthcare at the right price is to shop around a little. Something else that can help you in this decision is understanding burgeoning trends as they pertain to today’s healthcare industry.
1: Data Leveraging Regarding Healthcare
Big Data: It’s here, and it’s likely here to stay. This is because it’s going to keep becoming an intrinsic part of human society until some technological event horizon initiates the AI singularity science fiction writers have been getting manic about for decades. Now we’re not quite to the point where machines have taken over everything, but you can bet things are moving that direction, and 2018 will see an increase in such activity.
Imagine a machine that can perform a complex operation with zero errors. That machine would have to have critical thinking capacity or that which can mimic it. Now such complex operability is going to require a lot of data from a lot of professional medical practitioners, and a great deal of engineering acumen. There is a reason the medical industry is flush with resources. Such developments are costly!
Accordingly, today data is continuously being collected. Data is protected and collected on patients in pertinence to HIPAA regulations for the safety of those individuals. Data is collected on medical care institutions, and the levels of service they can provide. Data is collected about successful recoveries, and statistics related to those patients which can’t recover, or are unlikely to find recovery. All of these are reflections of Big Data as applied to medicine, for an in-depth look at how all these things interrelate, check out this article from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Insurance companies have always been data mavens when it comes to this sort of thing; Big Data not excluded. They have to be because the brokering of insurance as a service requires an accurate risk assessment, and statistics are the key.
Statistically, the cost of monthly coverage must be leveraged against the likelihood of its necessary implementation. Figuring out that information requires data that helps form a larger picture. So insurance companies are always seeking data where they can.
As an individual seeking insurance, you need to understand the value of data in modernity. It’s “binary” gold if you will. So what you provide, and how you provide it, could be important factors in the sort of healthcare coverage you’re likely to receive. Remember: the trend is toward increased computation in medicine, not less.
Whenever data takes over, a two-fold situation occurs. On the one hand, propensity for better service increases. On the other hand, there become greater instances of exploitable vulnerabilities in the system for those savvy enough to find them. It’s a double-edged sword, and it’s getting sharper every day going into 2018.
2: Patient Personalization
Because of this profusion of data—of information technology; that is to say: technology that runs on, and deals in, information—you can expect patient personalization to expand drastically; especially among millennials. This is a win-win situation for everybody. Patients who don’t prefer certain doctors can avoid them, and doctors who wouldn’t prefer to deal with certain patients can help them find more suitable practitioners.
There is always a moral angle in medicine, whether it be one that is honorable or one that seeks to “game” the system. Now, most doctors aren’t going to be interested in collusion. Some patients want to work with a doctor who has a more controversial perspective on the system, and how it works.
As Big Data begins to revitalize medical technology, and how that technology is put to use serving patients, data about preferences and personalization will increasingly dominate the market. The way service is applied, who gets it in what way and many other things will come to define it. It makes sense to secure insurance options who understand these trends, and are working to provide those they ensure the kind of solutions which best fit them.
Telemedicine, that is to say, appointments made digitally, are quickly becoming convenient in the market. There are even remote-controllable ‘bots. These bots can be used to surrogate doctors, and even provide examination data with about the level of accuracy found in an office.
This leads to the next point, interestingly enough. Training in areas of augmented reality becomes necessary for practitioners to properly serve a clientele that is diversifying as both technological solutions and data expansion utterly revitalize what the term healthcare even means. There are augmentation trends today which have nothing to do with preexisting health conditions and injury, but with basic personal preference. Consider the hand-gesture technology currently being bandied about.
Also, those who are seeking government-funded gender reassignment surgery must be considered. Perhaps there is an argument for mental health here, perhaps not. Physicians must respect two things: one, the demands of the market may not necessarily reflect the best health practices available, and two: if insurance companies are willing to pay for procedures, somebody is going to perform those procedures and make millions of dollars at it regardless of ethics.
Such new social considerations predicate new trends that themselves are putting down roots. So this must be considered regarding the forward transitions of modern healthcare in developed countries as well. Never before has political affiliation made such a difference in the kinds of available coverage out there; just consider the impact that the ACA has had on the country, and the clear political motivation silhouetting it. Opportunities and dangers abound. Whatever side of the political fence you’re on, you must respect this reality.
3: Augmented Reality Training
This was mentioned in the last point, and it’s something worth considering. Telemedicine and other similarly technologically saturated healthcare situations are increasingly predicting the need for physicians to exercise augmented reality. Augmented Reality, or AR for short, has a lot of potentials. Here are a video and article exploring how specifically it is being used in connection with medicine today. Full maturation of AR means complex operations can be performed by physicians at a distance.
If you haven’t seen AR before, it’s like VR, but it’s not quite the same. Consider Google Glass. Google Glass made it so that a little screen you wore kept you continuously online at all times, and able to exercise your online abilities with greater convenience.
Well, Augmented Reality uses the same technology to “float” data in front of real-world situations, allowing physicians to make quicker, more appropriate decisions about specific patients. Big Data is critical here, and available, secure information properly leveraged through the right tech providers will define certain healthcare availabilities going forward. It’s something to keep in mind.
Something else that’s worth keeping in mind is the industry’s continuously expansive boom despite increases in healthcare costs. You can see this by conducting a simple search in the market. Searching physician jobs by HospitalRecruiting.com will produce over 14,000 results for some search options; according to the site, a general search for physician jobs will produce: “…14,468 jobs matching…criteria.”
That’s a lot of specialized positions. Virtually none of those jobs will pay less than $100k a year. That means at minimum, the current job market for unattached physicians in the United States is at a low-end of around $2 billion.
There are physician jobs that pay more than $100k a year—many of them. If you were to average the open market at $10 billion, you would probably still be understating the case. The whole industry is worth $3 trillion; $10 billion is a drop in the bucket.
That’s a growth market, despite all the difficulties surfeiting the industry today. Part of that growth is regarding technology and related technology jobs. AR work needs trainers and medical professionals acting as “guinea pigs”. The same is true with VR (Virtual Reality) tech used for intensive procedures. Also, part of that growth is political. Again, it doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues when you take a step back and consider burgeoning healthcare options available to you, or their tangential effect on the entire market going forward.
4: Wearable Devices And Smart Technology In Healthcare
When it comes to wearables, data collection is a key indicator of both their success and likelihood to become established echelons of modern healthcare—remember what Big Data teaches us regarding information collection.
The wearables that are most useful in data collection are those most likely to remain in the market—search for trends as you decide whether or not these are for you; there’s no clear winner out there yet, though things like the Fitbit are gaining popularity. There may even come to be, if there aren’t already, healthcare plans which only mete out coverage provided those insured have some wearable device on them at all times—as yet this isn’t the case.
As Big Data and AR/VR medicinal techniques expand, wearables which provide real-time information on patients who do and don’t have conditions can act as digital canaries in the coal mine, if you will. Billions of terabytes of data on human health statistics can indicate whether an increase in pulse at a certain time for a certain individual may be risky or innocuous.
Granted, there are likely to be some highly-publicized mistakes in this regard going forward, but in twenty years’ time it’s not without the realm of possibility that services like Verizon and T-Mobile will provide wearable health technology that helps prod and control people’s health, even alerting physicians when compromising health situations are imminent, and making it possible for them to AR/VR in and “save the day”, as it was, before things get too drastic.
Smartphones already act as wearable health technology. They can count your footsteps and take measurements about your age, weight, and height which demonstrate whether statistically your BMI is at healthy ratios, or you need more exercise. Then, dependent on that data, you may just receive updates that encourage you to be more active!
The truth is, the vast majority of conditions practitioners deal with are entirely avoidable—they’re called “chronic conditions”, and usually have at their root some behavior of the patient. Sedentary nature coupled with poor nutrition combine such that human bodies reach a state of degradation decades before they should. With the right technology and the right application of that technology, it’s possible to reduce these things.
Imagine being able to get a 50% reduction in healthcare expenses provided you wear some unobtrusive piece of information gathering technology which connects you to the IoT (Internet of Things)—which is a lot larger than most people understand—at all times. Such things are already on the horizon. 2018 may see a few similar innovations reveal themselves; so keep your eyes open!
5: Changes In Medicare
Now Medicare is also going to experience some considerable changes going forward. ACA, or the “Affordable” Care Act, which has been rightfully nicknamed Obamacare, has proved itself a substantial disaster. Getting rid of it hasn’t been easy, though. It’s been de-enforced, and won’t be funded through enforced taxation going forward. This is going to have a collateral effect which serves to augment Medicare.
If you were unfamiliar with Medicare beforehand, you should keep in mind that even at its most streamlined, this government-breathed medical assistance solution has never been the most simple of provisions. You can check the government website for more in-depth information. Though to be fair, governments have a habit of obfuscating facts; especially as pertains to programs they provide.
Basically, there are four parts to this program—Medicare part A, B, C, D; and how these affect you will differ—consider what HealthMarkets.com has to say: “Each part provides its unique coverage, and depending on which part you choose, the enrollment options will also vary.”
Obviously, you want the enrollment options which best match your particular situation. It makes sense to consult with medical practitioners closely associated with you to ensure you make the right choices here. Also, the trends of the market will trickle down to government solutions eventually. It’s a domino-effect thing: eventually, Medicare will be affected, come what may.
What does this mean to you? Well, watch Medicare. The wearable data-gathering technology alluded to earlier would be something a government organization would be interested in. There is a power in information collection, dissemination, and application.
The government prefers to do two of those three things, and you can likely guess which two. Data collection, and data application. So don’t be surprised when such operational exigencies begin to define Medicare through the application of new technology solutions.
Conclusion: Finding The Most Effective Healthcare For Your Situation
When you boil it all down, it doesn’t matter what kind of technology is involved in your healthcare solution if you’re not being served as you should. Also, you should likely consider what particular needs define your own situation as different from others. If you’re young and healthy, with no hereditary conditions on the horizon, you might go with a limited health care plan.
The older you get, the more conditions compound, and the more amenable solutions like wearable, data-gathering technology become—why is obvious: you have greater connectivity to necessary health coverage during instances that may potentially escalate very quickly into areas where a life can be threatened. Many senior citizens lose strength needed to the right themselves after a fall, and so even a slip could be fatal. Accordingly, this is also something you’re going to want to take into account going forward. We already know wearables are here. Barring some catastrophe, they will be here in the future. Are they worth your time? Generally, weigh out all your options, and find ways of keeping yourself informed about the healthcare market.
Healthcare solutions are at an exciting place right now where bad government programs are on the way out, and prosperity silhouetted in technology is sashaying into the center of public discourse. If you are careful to stay on top of the trends, you can get some deals. At the very least, you can get your head around a world that has changed so quickly even the youth seem to be left behind.