Will The High Cost of Health Care Encourage Us to Embrace Wellness?

I’m not convinced that the cost of care will be enough to bring about this seismic shift in our health behaviours nor will it benefit current users of aged care who have not benefited from a history of wellness.

Will the cost of aged care drive older Australians and future generations to consider and take action to get healthy in order to avoid disability as they age?

I ask because this was the argument put forward in a recent wrap up of the challenges facing the US health system when they argued that consumers would “weigh the cost of care versus the benefits of healthy habits they will follow behind the wellness vanguard”.

If so, this means that the price of health care will do more for public health than public health campaigns have done.

I’m not convinced that the cost of care will be enough to bring about this seismic shift in our health behaviours nor will it benefit current users of aged care who have not benefitted from a history of wellness.

The need to encourage wellness as part of aged care has been recognised and is now mandated in community care but we can’t let price work against this initiative.

Cost of in-home aged care has been contentious but …

The cost of care has been hotly debated here in Australia as consumer directed care is rolled-out in aged care but there hasn’t been much coverage of what is being purchased.

Most of the debate has been about ‘pricing’ of care options and the overheads charged. The discussion has been about driving the cost down for consumers and providing them with an ‘apple’s with apple’s’ comparisons of care purchases.

Wellness implemented as part of in-home aged care services is more than just completing the ‘tasks’ of daily living. If you want the ‘tasks’ delivered, like cleaning, meals or personal care, these can be a straight commercial transaction that can easily be priced and commoditised.

Wellness is more than tasks

Wellness is a bundle of health and care services that aims to maximize independence and wellbeing. Done well it requires a greater investment than simply getting in, delivering and getting out (I’m simplifying the process for the purpose of this discussion – I appreciate it can be of higher quality and more personable than I am representing it).

There is a danger that as we move to consumer directed care aged care services and support will become more of a business transaction than a health care intervention.

Cost is discouraging some from getting care

I already hear via anecdotal conversations that consumers are shying away from packages as the balance their options because of the cost. We shouldn’t let the cost of wellness be compared, or devalued, vis a vis an intervention that focuses on completing the task without any therapeutic considerations.

What are our options?

To ensure that our customers understand the value of this service do we need to get better at marketing wellness as a positive benefit?

I’d love to hear your views on this issue.

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