THE BLOG
09/20/2013 04:33 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2013

I'd Rather Get Sick in a Foreign Country

Health is about hope, opportunity and control over the future of your life.-- Anthony Iton, SVP at California Endowment at the SOCAP 2013 Conference

When I lived in the U.K., my health care was paid for through an annual £179 additional coverage fee and some portion of the roughly 30 percent I paid in taxes (like Federal for the U.S.). That entitled me to see my general practitioner (i.e. average, everyday doctor) at any time of day, who was a 15-minute walk from my place of residence. And, because I had private insurance, I could see literally anyone I wanted to in the U.K. within a month.

It's a scenario that seems too good to be true with our U.S. lens where the lack of health insurance can leave you denied coverage, bankrupt and resorting to desperate measures just to pay the minimum, such as selling drugs (see Breaking Bad). Even when you have insurance, it can take ages to cut through red tape to see the appropriate specialist and you pay anywhere from $30-$200 as your co-pay, no matter what the issue. It just costs more here.

But why? If I can be seen for $1,000 in a four-star hotel hospital in Bangkok with U.S. trained doctors, why can't we mimic that experience in the U.S.?

Short answer: There are a series of interconnected players among providers (e.g. hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc.), payers (e.g. insurance companies), drug companies, medical device manufacturers and the government. For the most part, the patient (i.e. you) comes last in this complex network.

But in the land of enterprising pioneers (hey U.S., I'm talking about you), this doesn't have to be the case. First, we have tons of working models we can borrow from -- all across the world! The U.K. is one, Thailand is another and France -- well, don't even get me started on just how amazing their pharmacies are. Saved my life -- twice. Two, with all that big data wandering around, we're sure to generate some invaluably small insights that could begin to crack this problem. Three, we know media -- we invented the pop star! Why not apply that knowledge to the health care system to build more consumer advocates. Four, Obamacare. Yes, there may be flaws because it's new and bound to have hiccups. But this is an unprecedented opportunity for us to deliver true wellness to communities. As Anthony Iton states, above, we can create true health: "hope, opportunity and control over the future of your life."

Says Eric Page, CEO of Amplify Health, "Many of the problems in health care are there by design." So let's combine a beginner's mind with the industry veterans to start to see where we may be able to reimagine and reinvent the health care experience to put the human first. I no longer want to be a patient, I want to be healthy.

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