WANNA_KEEP_EM_HEALTHYWelcome to next year, Washington! Many of you have New Year’s resolutions that involve taking better care of yourselves and your health. With this in mind, Washington Filmworks reached out to S. Fisher Qua, Director of Health at the Washington Health Foundation. The Washington Health Foundation is a statewide non-profit with more than 20 years dedicated to making Washington the Healthiest State in the Nation. Below is the first of two guest blog posts that address healthcare and health insurance.


Flipping the System

By S. Fisher Qua, Director of Health at the Washington Health Foundation

Premiums. Deductibles. Coinsurance. Out-of-pocket maximum. CPT codes. WSHIP. WA healthplanfinder. Basic Health. Medicare. Medicaid. Private exchanges. Co-ops.

The U.S. healthcare system is not only fragmented, it is not set up to meet the needs of individuals. In a wicked paradox, people are needed, but not necessary to the functions of healthcare. When healthcare services and resources are so fragmented, disorganized and confusing, how can we expect individuals to navigate the system in any kind of informed, rational way? We are expected to be both engaged consumers AND passive patients; personally responsible for our health AND collectively influenced by factors beyond our control; partners in improving our quality of life AND beholden to the expert opinions of others.

The result of these paradoxes is a healthcare system that seems to make sense from the top-down, but that feels far from it when experienced from the bottom-up. For the past forty years, healthcare services have been designed with only one side of the equation in mind. What we need next is to not just flip the system, but enhance BOTH sides of the paradox. We need more freedom AND more responsibility. More personal engagement AND more collective action. Healthier living AND healthier systems.

Achieving such tipping points takes time. Slowly, slowly and then all at once things change. People experience context shifts overnight even though the pieces have all been rearranging themselves just below the perceptual surface. We are reaching such a threshold in healthcare – where finally the system will respond to the emerging needs of individuals. Services, tools and resources will be organized in a way that people can pull what they need instead of having things thrust upon them. Individuals will be able to decide for themselves what health looks like and then pursue that vision with the full support of their social relationships AND the expert knowledge of a world class medical care community.

But we’re not there – yet.

To pull the system towards a tipping point while at-the-same-time helping individuals get the immediate, relevant value they seek from healthcare, the Washington Health Foundation (a statewide non-profit with more than 20 years dedicated to making Washington the Healthiest State in the Nation) designed its Personal Health Advocacy service to assist anyone in the state understand and navigate challenging healthcare quandaries. Over the past two years, we have developed a specific expertise in helping independent contractors, self-employed entrepreneurs, and freelance artists get access to services, care and tools they need to improve their health. Sometimes that involves connecting people to insurance. Sometimes it means counseling them on finding appropriate community resources. Sometimes it means reaching out on their behalf to a provider or insurer to sort out a complex medical billing question.

We constantly ask our clients why they want to be healthy and how they want to get there. Instead of asking what you want, we gain a better understanding of your underlying values and vision and can then in turn direct you to more relevant services. In many ways, we act as a personally customized HR department for individuals.

When so much attention, energy and effort is dedicated to redesigning the system from the top down, we are trying to improve the interfaces of healthcare from the bottom up so that they are truly person-centered. And the best news is that we’re not alone in the endeavor. There is an emerging ecosystem of partners, communities and service providers seeking to flip the system, too.

Intrigued? Give us a call at 855-WA-HEALTH. Our services are always free.