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Mike Waterbury discusses reinventing healthcare on the Passionate Pioneers podcast
Mike Waterbury discusses reinventing healthcare on the Passionate Pioneers podcast

Goodroot CEO Michael Waterbury recently joined host Mike Biselli on the Passionate Pioneers podcast to discuss the mission of Goodroot, medical debt and what all parties can do in the future to reinvent healthcare. Below are some of the highlights of what Mike had to say. 

Listen to the full episode on the Passionate Pioneers podcast. 

On reinventing healthcare: “Affordable, equal access to health care. I don’t know if there’s anything more important in our country to be talking about, and it crosses all beliefs and political views and everything else. And it is the right time, and we feel like we’re in a great position at Goodroot to take a leadership role and help people bring these ideas to life and impact real change in healthcare.” 

On medical debt: “The words we use, the lexicon in healthcare is so complicated, and it’s very important to break it down. When we say medical debt, it makes it sound like it’s the patient’s fault. Right, they did something wrong. I think most of the time they’ve done nothing wrong, other than access care. And as you think about the $140 billion in debt and growing in this country, and you think about the work that’s been done to get more people covered, what I see is we have let people access the system through insurance that doesn’t really cover their care. The benefits aren’t robust enough, the networks aren’t robust enough, when they have to pay the rates are irrational. So we’re putting people into insurance or coverage and really setting them up to fail.” 

On ‘small’ companies: “We’re very focused on trying to create a solution where we have an offering that includes all of our solutions for all customer types. Because if we just fix things, and we just sell it to the biggest companies out there, I need them then to pass on the savings to their customers. And that doesn’t always happen. I think one of the things that my team hears me talk a lot about is we call certain companies ‘small’ in healthcare. And depending on who you are, sometimes it’s 10,000 lives, sometimes it’s 5,000; I’ve got 78 employees. It’s not small. And my health insurance cost is not small. So even that language, I think, is absurd. I mean, this is not a small issue.” 

On what patients can do: “If you’re a patient, you have to get more engaged. You have to think a little bit — I know the acronyms are hard, you’ve got to understand them and you’ve just got to ask good questions. It’s OK to ask your doctor, ‘how much does this cost?’ They won’t know the answer, which is crazy, but you can ask. Just become more educated, more involved. I know it’s hard. We’re all very busy and challenged in today’s world, but it’s important.” 

On what employers can do: “As an employer, you’ve got to have the right representation and you’ve got to ask the right questions. You’ve got to become more engaged as well. And you’ve got to think about new ways of doing things. If you just do the same thing over and over again — fight about a premium increase on a fully insured solution for your employees’ healthcare — nothing’s going to change. So you have to be willing to take some risk. Think about self-insurance, think about innovative options, make sure that employee benefit consultant is representing your interests.” 

On what insurance companies can do: “I know a lot of great people that work at health insurance companies. They’re working really hard, they’re smart. I just want them to think about the patient first, and why we really exist. And also think about the future. I know they have to think about their shareholders. It’s very important; I worked in those jobs. But is this sustainable, the model we’re in? And what can they do to help with medical debt?” 

On what providers, hospitals and physicians can do: “Hospitals and providers have to just think about how do you provide a fair price that people can pay when they owe the bill. And then make it easy for them to access it. If there’s things like financial assistance policies and programs that you’re required to give, if you’re a nonprofit hospital, make them easy. … Run your business so that you can provide care to the most people at the price that they can afford, and continue to invest in providing great care. Although I will say the work that hospitals and nurses and physicians have done over the last few years is just mind-boggling and just gives you chills. And I just personally want to thank them for all of that. I’m just blown away every day by what they’re doing. And I feel like on the administrative side, it’s our job to step up now, and figure out how to pay for all that effectively.” 

On the goal for the future: “I want healthcare to be effective and affordable for my kids and their kids 50 years from now. There’s nothing more important to do.” 

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