The Touching Story of an Ice Cream Man and How Healthcare Costs Can Be Lowered
Have you heard the touching story of the ice cream man from Chicago? His story moved one customer, who raised $250,000 for his healthcare and retirement funds. Researchers are also trying to lower healthcare costs to help those with unmet medical needs.
Since 1990, Fidencio Sanchez has been selling popsicles year round, pushing a heavy freezer cart and ringing a bell. Even in Chicago's merciless freezing winters, he's always on schedule wearing his signature yellow cap beaming a friendly smile. Sanchez is now 89, but still working tirelessly everyday, pushing the heavy cart to sell ice cream so that he can support himself and his wife. There's one problem – his knees are giving out.
But good fortune rewarded Sanchez. One of his customers felt so bad for him that he started a fundraiser for his healthcare and retirement funds. It raised about $250,000 in a short time! Now Sanchez can relax and finally take a break from his hardship.
Many of us struggle with what Sanchez was dealing with. Part of the problem is rising healthcare costs. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, many Medicaid and Commonwealth Care patients have unmet medical needs because of these rising costs.
Researchers found one way to help lower costs for patients, it's called Activity-based Costing Definition (ABC). Traditionally, patients aren't billed for the care provided. Charges are based on departmental budgets, so if you had a simple illness that required inter-departmental attention, you'd be charged more than if you simply saw your doctor and filled out a prescription at the pharmacy. With activity-based costing, researchers found that healthcare systems could more accurately bill patients based on their specific situations, which would lower overall healthcare costs to patients and increase healthcare system revenue.
In one study, after using activity-based costing they found that diagnostic procedures could be made more efficient and affordable and patient safety and profits could also be increased if scheduling practices were improved, equipment was shared between departments, and if staff were educated about true costs and preventive waste of radioactivity resources.
In another study, activity-based costing resulted in 20 percent improvement in time doctors spend with patients. Also, researchers found discrepancies between different prostrate cancer therapies using activity-based costing, which means they'll be better able to make these therapy costs more uniform and fairer for cancer patients.
Activity-based costing has also shed light on dental care. Researchers found that aggressive periodontitis treatment was way higher than the overall cost of treating patients who routinely come in with chronic periodontitis. Surprisingly, patient costs are mostly attributed to transportation, while dental care providers were found to be spending the most on consumables. Overall, periodontitis treatment is incredibly costly compared to other non-communicable diseases. These revelations help identify ways to formulate cost-reducing strategies.
Dr. Scott Lee of Desert Family Dental says that making periodontitis treatment more available by reducing costs is important because periodontitis is a serious disease that can lead to heart and brain problems if left untreated.
If you're currently not getting the medical care you need because of high costs, don't despair. One of the contributing factors of unmet medical needs is patient education. Look for resources already available to you, like special healthcare programs that your state offers. Although health costs are rising, activity-based costing will help lower those costs in the near future.