Dive Brief:
  • Alegeus annualHealthcare Consumerism Index, which analyzes thehealthcare spending and savings decisions of a sample of employed US adults, found thatconsumers are exhibiting slightly savvier behaviors around shopping for healthcare services.

  • Yet consumers savings habits for future healthcare expensesarefailing to keep up with the times, considering the increased healthcare cost responsibilities resulting from higher deductibles andout-of-pocket costs.

  • The Alegeus report concludes most consumers lack someunderstanding or focus for managingtheir increased financial responsibilities.

Dive Insight:

The report aims to measure consumers empowerment totake greater ownership of their healthcare finances, and found a far higher measurement for consumerism in healthcare spending (54.44 points out of 100) compared to consumerism in healthcare saving (21.88 points out of 100).

When it came to spending, this years scoreindicated a slight improvement over last years of 48.3.

Despite that progress,consumersare still much more engaged and thoughtful about buying a TV (scoring a 78.9) than they are about making decisions concerning their own healthcare, Alegeus found.

It added that even with 76% of consumers reporting a focus on getting the best value for their healthcare, the majority of those still did notunderstand their cost responsibility for a given service until they were billed afterward.

Regarding healthcare saving,Disciplined saving for short- and long-term healthcare costs represents a paradigm shift for most consumers, and the research findings affirm that the majority of consumers are under-funding their healthcare savings, Alegeus wrote.

It found only34% claiming toknow how much they will need to save to pay for their healthcare this year, and only 23% saying they were saving aggressively for future healthcare expenses.

Recommended Reading

Alegeus: 2016 Alegeus Healthcare Consumerism Index Reveals Modest Increase in Cost and Value-Conscious Spending Behaviors

  • Our View: Stop Fall Rivers forced budgeting mess
  • As the clock ticks toward the June 30 deadline for the Fall River City Council to approve Mayor Jasiel Correia IIs proposed $255.8 million Fiscal 17 budget, councilors and the public have the benefit of a clearer budget than weve seen from previous administrations, as well as the testimony of department heads at the budget hearings.

One does not expect Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to announce a radically different budget for the next fiscal year. Most likely, the balance sheet would be a repeat of what Pakistani governments -- no matter what kind -- have been presenting year after year all these years. The overwhelming emphasis would once again be on growth with a lot of rhetoric about equity but without a single measure aimed at introducing even a facade of equity.

The widening inequity in income is likely to continue widening further, along with inequity in access to affordable education, affordable heath cover, affordable transport and affordable housing. Once again, the mantra of growth taking care of equity would be repeated justifying proposals for the rich to become even richer.

Stagnating allocation for social sectors would be attributed to the chronic resource shortage for which the haves would be squarely blamed for not contributing their due to the national treasury but making no efforts to bind them to pay their taxes strictly in accordance with the law of the land.

However, there has been another reason why the national economy has continued to refuse to respond to the measures envisaged in successive national budgets.

We have been at war since the early 1980s without a break. But every annual budget that we have prepared since has been framed for a country at peace within and without. Our economy has remained so focused on war all these years that it has continued to fail to add to our depleting social and physical infrastructure.

It is, indeed, not possible to carry out a 36-year-long war effort without any financial cost to the nation. Being at war all these years has seriously and adversely impacted our economy. We need to stop deceiving ourselves and start budgeting up front for the ongoing war efforts.

Perhaps, that is the main reason why despite having had the good fortune of being the most allied ally of the US since the mid-1950s until 1988, and then once again having been adopted as the Non-Nato ally since 9/11, presumably to date, our economy has continued to refuse to respond to any of the policies framed for a country mistakenly believed to be at peace within and without.

Even so, until about the time we became involved in wars in the early 1980s, our budgetary allocations for development work would always be more than the allocations shown as defence budgets. But since the mid-1980s, the allocations under the two heads had reversed although we were receiving heavy injections of unencumbered assistance, both military and civil, during this period from almost the entire 'free world' plus China.

As we entered the decade of the 1990s, we found ourselves deeply involved in two, almost 10-year-long, low-intensity wars, one between the Taliban-ruled Kabul and the Northern Alliance, and the other between Indian troops and freedom fighters who had launched a 'jihad' against occupying troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.

And we are now involved in a war within since around 2005 when the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) started challenging our own armed forces. They have been attacking security installations since. Even the GHQ did not escape their assault.

Finally losing patience, our armed forces have hit back by launching Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 and went after the TTP. Since then, the war within has engulfed the entire country. The TTP are said to have fled across to Afghanistan and are now mounting their attacks against Pakistani targets from across the Durand Line with support from the Afghan Taliban, who too are said to have been uprooted by the Operation Zarb-e-Azb campaign from the safe sanctuaries in Pakistan's tribal belt. Some of the elements within the Afghan government who are said to be hostile towards Pakistan are also said to be helping the TTP in their war against Pakistan.

The ongoing war within and the war-like situation at the eastern, north-western and western borders, plus the heavy burden of rehabilitating and resettling millions of internally displaced persons are all likely to bring the annual budget for 2016-17 under a heavier burden but which, again, is expected to ignore the elephant in the room for lack of will to call a spade a spade.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2016.

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Budgeting, is never easy to do as adults. Students at Park Crest Middle School of Pflugerville ISD lived real life scenarios teaching them to to budget, pay bills, own a home, and support a family.

Sydney Kaiser is going through real life financial decisions. She was given a profile, at the start of this exercise, I am a personal trainer and make two thousand one hundred and ninety six dollars a month.Kaiser says she now knows what her parents go through Before this we kind of thought, oh its not that much. Our parents will just pay for it. But now we see how much stuff actually costs.

Fourteen year old Coby Simms quickly learned, budgeting isnt easy, What you take for granted with your parents. Its actually a lot harder than what you think to balance and budget. He says he will now be more attentive in what he asks his parents for.

Eighth grader Trey Mitchells profile was a husband, a father, and a personal trainer. He had to budget in order to buy food, a house, and a car. He says he will now be more aware of when asking his parents for stuff, I regret asking my parents for a lot of things, I realize now it can be stressful.:

Stressfull experiences, teaching these kids a lifetime of lessons making the students at Park Crest Middle School, cool at school.

This is the second year, A+ Federal Credit Union has made this experience happen in Pflugerville ISD.