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June 9, 2020
Consumers Counting on Private Sector to Produce Post-COVID Healthcare Market Innovations
David Burda
Consumerism COVID-19 Economics Innovation System Dynamics

Consumers Counting on Private Sector to Produce Post-COVID Healthcare Market Innovations

Consumers want the private sector, not the federal government, to lead them out of this mess we call the U.S. healthcare system, which got a lot messier because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So market, it’s time to do your thing. Everyone is counting on you.

That’s my takeaway and your marching orders from a new consumer poll conducted by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

U. of Chicago and AP/NORC surveyed 1,001 adults age 18 or older May 14-18, and they released the survey results on June 8. You can download them here

They asked them a lot of questions and compared their answers with the answers from a similar pool of 1,015 adults they surveyed in February. Much of the pair’s 18-page report highlights how the opinions of the U.S. healthcare system changed—or didn’t change—before and after the coronavirus outbreak.

My characterization of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak is a combination of no response to sheer incompetence to callous indifference to political manipulation. Just wanted you to know where I’m coming from. 

Anyway, the surveyors asked consumers in the May poll a series of questions about who does a better job—government or the private sector—on four key healthcare issues. Here’s what they said:

  • 70 percent said the private sector does a better job driving innovation in healthcare
  • 62 percent said the private sector does a better job improving the quality of healthcare
  • 54 percent said the government does a better job reducing costs in the healthcare system
  • 53 percent said the private sector does a better job providing health insurance coverage

It seems consumers are OK with paying a little more for healthcare as long as that little more is driving innovation, improving quality and expanding access. In fact, 56 percent of the May respondents said the government is spending “too little” on “improving and protecting the nation’s health.”

Patients’ response to COVID-19 demonstrated the collective power they have as consumers to change how payers and providers finance and deliver healthcare services in the U.S. When they stopped going, the dollars stopped flowing.  

What the new poll by U. of C. and AP/NORC shows is that consumers are expecting payers and providers to respond accordingly with market-driven innovations and reforms. This is your opportunity to become truly consumer-focused. Don’t blow it.

For more on this topic, read “COVID-19 Put the C Back in Healthcare Consumerism and/or listen to the June 5 episode of our weekly podcast, 4sight Friday Roundup, here.  

Thanks for reading.

Stay home, stay safe, stay alive.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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