Paul Gregory agreed with Catlett's "price doesn't matter" philosophy as long as he was talking about developed nations. (He was, Paul - and he concentrated specifically on trends in the U.S.) But Paul also called me on the fact that I use price and cost interchangeably in my posting - and it's not the same thing. I looked back through my notes and Catlett used "price doesn't matter." I must have interjected cost myself. But I do think they both basically mean "money" in this situation.
Jamie Notter disagreed with Catlett for applying that premise to health care. (And, Jamie, I do agree that health care is very different than a widget. My association has spent a lot of time and energy working with others all over the state to get Mississippi covered - and it's an ongoing battle, especially in a time of deep Medicaid cuts for patients and providers.) But Catlett did say it - I have it in my notes: "People can afford health care - but we've got to make them want to."
In his defense, he was saying this at a time that he spouted off a string of numbers about American households and money:
- Debt is higher now - but so is income. U.S. households hold $7 trillion in cash.
- The Baby Boomers have 55% more income - adjusted for inflation - than The Greatest Generation.
- The poverty level is $18,400 - and the average household living in poverty has 2.4 television sets.
- In 1969, 1/3 of our income was spent to eat. Today that percentage is 10%. (And if your household brings in $75,000 or more - which one out of four in America does - than that percentage drops to 4%.)
- Disposable income has never been higher than any other time in history - regardless of income bracket.
Of course, what the argument is not taking into consideration is that health care costs and utilization have been rising rapidly over the years also. There are many factors affecting both of those rises, but I won't go into those here since I promised this would be an association blog and not a health care blog.
I still think that as an association executive, it's a good mantra to remember when you sit down at your desk in the morning:
What you want, when you want it, where you want it - price doesn't matter
I say that because it's easy to get overwhelmed by the time and money issues in the association world. (People don't have enough time to come to my whatever. And if they did have the time, their company won't pay for it. We're in an economic slump - no one can pay our dues.)
I do believe that at the end of the day, it is value - not price or cost - that make members continue to pay dues. I see our association as an investment for our members - and we all work together to make sure that they see a return on that investment through a variety of publications, services and programs.