Column: Accountability of Members/Patients to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

This series titled “Column: Healthcare Accountability” is sponsored content from our partners at Axene Health Partners.  AHP offers highly specialized health care actuarial and consulting services across a number of states.  We have curated this content because we think it adds value to the work our readers are engaged in.  As always, we welcome your feedback on this series.

How much is your health worth to you? How much do you invest (or sacrifice) in pursuit of good health? Are your responses to those questions in sync or out of sync with each other? Most people would agree that their health is worth a lot to them, in fact, worth so much that most people consider their health to be an invaluable asset. It is less clear, however, that the level of personal commitment towards achieving and maintaining good health is reflective of its invaluable nature.

The U.S. has the most advanced health care system in the world, and is correspondingly by far the most expensive. There is a saying that money cannot buy happiness. Unfortunately, this saying applies to health status as well. Healthcare services are invaluable for the treatment of illnesses. The advanced healthcare services available in the U.S. system provide treatment for a wide variety and high severity of illnesses. But even the most expensive and most advanced treatments cannot endow a person with good health. The only way to achieve and maintain good physical and mental health is through a lifelong commitment of personal investment, sacrifice, self-motivation, and accountability towards healthy lifestyle choices. A bonus feature is that good health does not entail an expensive health care system. In fact, it is the opposite. Good health leads to a decreased need for health care services, which means a less expensive heath care system. The issue is that while people want to have good health and want to have a lower cost health care system, self-motivation and commitment to a healthy lifestyle is difficult or inconvenient for many people. In theory, everyone should be fully committed to pursuing good health, but, in reality, there is a lack of self-motivation, a lack of appreciation, and an absence of personal accountability when it comes to healthy lifestyle.

The U.S. has more medical malpractice lawsuits than all other developed countries combined. We have the highest expectations of the health care providers in our system, and we hold them accountable when they don’t meet high expectations. Doctors, hospitals, or all other health care providers are at risk of getting sued for improper actions (or lack of action) that have negative consequences on a patient’s health outcome. However, the patient has no liability or accountability for their actions (or lack of) that put their health at risk. What if the system reciprocated some expectations onto the patient and held the patient accountable for doing their part to achieve and maintain good health; perhaps rewarding the patient for compliance and sanctioning the patient for non-compliance?

Continue reading the column here.