Healthcare consumerism…not the dirty word you might think it to be

Consumerism, the word makes me cringe.  As a minimalist, the idea of too much stuff makes me anxious.  As a lover of our environment, the idea sounds irresponsible and as someone who values stability and personal responsibility, the idea of consumerism sounds like it would fiscally irresponsible for me.  For many of us the idea of consumerism probably sparks some discomfort or negativity but in the case of healthcare, consumerism is a good thing. 

Healthcare consumerism means people “proactively using trustworthy, relevant information and appropriate technology to make better-informed decisions about their health care options in the broadest sense, both within and outside the clinical setting” (Carman, Lawrence & Siegel, 2019).  Being proactive and informed….now that sounds empowering.  That is something I can get behind. But how can we become better consumers of our healthcare?

There are three, primary actions we can take:

  1. Make the most of your medical appointments by being prepared.  Check out these tips from the Dartmouth Center for Shared Decision Making.
  2. Take personal responsibility for your self-care behaviors: Our health is largely determined by the seemingly small behaviors we engage in every day.  In Vermont, three behaviors (poor diet, lack of physical activity and tobacco use) lead to four diseases (type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease & stroke and lung disease) that are responsible for 50% of all deaths.
  3. Take advantage of tools to support your decision making.  For our Cigna members, check out this video developed by our Cigna Engagement Specialist, Mari Walsh.  It will walk you through all the cost comparison/cost containment tools available to help you make the most informed and fiscally sound decisions. 

Being better consumers of healthcare, like anything, comes down to commitment and practice.  Choose to be prepared, to take responsibility and to use the tools available to you to help you be successful.  You have got nothing to lose and everything to gain.