Can a GOOD Company Cut the Cost of Health Care?

Health care is costly because there isn't enough information for consumers. One GOOD Company has plans to change all that.

Why is health care in this country so expensive? David Cutler, a health care economist at Harvard University, offers a partial answer: People don’t know enough about which physicians and hospitals provide quality care at a good price.

“Within a market, lack of good quality data means that consumers have a difficult time determining which providers are better and worse,” Cutler wrote in a 2010 paper. If consumers can’t figure out whether they’re getting good care, providers don’t have much incentive to compete—one reason why there’s no correlation between the price of care and its quality.

Imagine if you were trying to buy a car, but had no idea whether different models provided more or less fuel efficiency, and the cost of the car was unrelated to its quality—a really expensive car could be worse than a cheap one! It would be hard to make the right choice, but that’s exactly how we approach health care today.

In an effort to fix this, Castlight Health, a GOOD Company finalist, has developed a software platform that allows people to make smarter choices in the health care arena.

“We want to make comparison shopping for health care online as easy as comparison shopping for other services, like travel or books,” says Ethan Prater, Castlight's vice president for product marketing. "When [employers] find out that cost and quality don’t correlate in health care, they find out, 'wow, I can also get my employees better health care at lower cost.'"

Castlight is currently working with Safeway grocery stores, which provides health insurance directly to its employees, and several other large, self-insuring businesses, to develop its model. Their software allows companies to choose insurance options that share more costs with employees, but also gives them the tools to find lower cost care.

“You might type 'cholesterol' test or 'John Muir Hospital' or 'kid with fever,'" Prater says,"and we’ll show you providers who can treat that condition or who match what you’re looking for, the cost of that provider, the quality of that provider, [and] how many procedures of this type they’ve done compared to others in the network or others in the state."

That comparison can make a real difference: In the San Francisco Bay Area, where Castlight is headquartered, the cost of a colonoscopy can range from $650 to $5,250. The service is most effective at these “commodity procedures”—highly standardized tests and examinations, rather than emergency treatment or long-term management of diseases—although the company is developing tools to help manage complex conditions like diabetes, including medication, outpatient visits, and even inpatient surgeries.

Castlight hopes to put its tools to work for companies that don’t handle their own insurance and to integrate its systems into major health care plans, in an effort to reduce the amount of money everyone—businesses, individuals, and the government—spends on care while encouraging innovation.

“Consumerism tends to lead to good things in certain industries, it tends to make prices go down and quality go up,” Prater says. “Saving money on health care is an awesome way to have a great business, but what drives the company is the mission of getting information in the hands of consumers.”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Images_of_Money

via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less