“To build an American health-care system that delivers better care at a lower cost, primary care must become a national health policy priority.” — John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care
In a recent article for The Hill, John Rother discussed the need for several key healthcare policy reforms advocated by the National Coalition on Health Care. His recommendations highlight ways to improve on care delivery and provider payment models. Central to his argument for reform is an increased focus on primary care. Here’s why.
America is behind
“Successful employers, plans, and health systems are finding strong primary care to be absolutely essential,” writes Rother. But as a country, we don’t seem to be getting the message.
Only 4 to 8 percent of healthcare spending in the United States goes to primary care, compared to an average of 12 percent in other industrialized countries whose overall healthcare spending is also less.
While other countries and private providers, like Vera Whole Health, are showing the success of investing in primary care, other high deductible health plans limp along at a higher cost while ignoring the benefits of primary care.
Why? Because when primary care services are underfunded and underutilized, people don’t get healthier. Instead, their acute health problems get ignored, their chronic illnesses compound, and their overall health deteriorates.
Why investing in primary care pays off
Primary care pays off because it helps people become healthier. Healthier people cost less. It’s that simple, but it takes time and an initial investment to work. “Moving toward population based payments and financial risk provides a strong incentive for clinicians to resource front end, primary and holistic care that has been shown to successfully offset unnecessary hospital readmissions, emergency room visits and other preventable health-care costs,” says Rother.
Traditional fee-for-service payment plans restrict providers from being able to provide the types of services that could help their patients the most. More flexible payment plans combined with a stronger investment in primary care would allow providers to offer a broader range of services for chronically ill patients, including behavioral care like health coaching.
Vera leading the voice of reform
Rother’s recommendations echo the direction of Vera Whole Health. By focusing on primary care services, we’re helping people become healthier. By avoiding fee-for-service payment plans, we’re allowing providers to give patients the treatment they need, like behavioral care. And by making primary care services unlimited and free, we’re ensuring that our patients and our clients reap the benefits of primary care.