Larry Hausner knows that making health insurance sustainable is hard, but he wants agents, brokers, health insurer executives and others in the insurance community to remember that having diabetes, multiple sclerosis or leukemia is also hard.
Hausner, the former chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, now runs a consulting firm that tries to make the patient’s voice heard in health policy and health business strategy discussions.
One of the goals in the back of his head is figuring out how to promote efforts to give the entities that pay for health care today more of a stake in improving the quality of people’s lives, and cutting future health care, disability and long-term care (LTC) services costs, by spending on preventive care and high-quality condition management programs now.
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“I think it’s beginning to happen,” Hausner says, “but it’s slow. Nobody wants it to be slow.”
Some of the people Hausner is trying to speak for are the clients who buy individual products from you, and the business owners and benefits managers who buy benefits products from you.
For a look at four things Hausner wants to tell you, on their behalf, read on.
1. He understands that Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) changes have been hard on many health insurance agents and brokers.
Hausner says he knows producers in the health insurance market and recognizes that PPACA
For them, “it’s much more up in the air,” he says. “Their attitude is, ‘Why did someone make my life change? Now I need to learn new things.”
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2. He says that PPACA may not be perfect, but that it has done a lot of good for people with chronic health problems.
For people with expensive chronic health problems, PPACA World, with all of its faults, “is better than where we were before,” Hausner contends. In 2013, before PPACA came along, most adults with diabetes that he met had Medicaid, Medicare or employer-sponsored coverage, or they were uninsured, he recalls.
The uninsured people with diabetes had little or no ability to control what kind of care they got, and, if they were able to get insulin or other medications, they often tried to make supplies meant to last for one month hold out for three or four months.
When he talked to low-income African American people with diabetes, they would tell him, “None of us here are really able to take care of ourselves. We know one out of four of us is going to lose a limb.”
In 2014, when the PPACA ban on use of personal health status information other than location, age and tobacco use helped people with diabetes and other chronic conditions get covered, many of those people simply signed up for coverage without thinking much about the coverage, Hausner says.
During the second open enrollment period, he heard people talking more about out-of-pocket costs.
This year, he says, they are more interested in personalization, and in understanding exactly what providers and what medications are covered.
Hausner would like people who hate the PPACA changes to think more about what it’s like to walk in the shoes of people who have lost their feet.
”The way you do things has to be relearned,” he says.