The Getting Healthcare Right Campaign

Helping consumers navigate the changing healthcare system

About the project: Consumer Reports’ Getting Healthcare Right

The Getting Healthcare Right project investigates and explains medical system delivery reforms, with a view toward making them widely accessible and understandable to patients and the public.

As the U.S. improves the accessibility and affordability of its health insurance coverage, it is also exploring a wide range of innovative strategies to restructure and improve the quality of health care, constrain spending growth, and empower consumers.

These include:

  • Expanding access to primary care and preventive services
  • Measuring and reporting quality
  • Paying providers for delivering quality care
  • Putting more “actionable” information about providers, treatment, insurers, and prices into consumers’ hands, so they can make better, more informed choices
  • Deploying health information technologies to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, and implementing electronic health records systems
  • Reducing administrative costs, through greater operating efficiencies and streamlined payment and billing systems

The U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, spending nearly 18% of its Gross Domestic Product on health care each year. Yet it has been estimated that patients receive appropriate, evidence-based care only about 55% of the time (McGlynn et al., N Engl J Med 2003).  The other 45% of the time, patients experience other than recommended care, including medical underuse, overuse or misuse (mistakes and medical errors).  Medical system delivery reforms hold the potential to ensure all patients can receive safe, high quality care, at lower overall cost, in a more reliable and consistent way.  The right combination of reforms can potentially benefit patients, providers and taxpayers alike, by ensuring that health system resources are wisely and efficiently used.

In our reporting and analysis, the Getting Healthcare Right project seeks to explain the reasons that health system changes are or may be needed; the nature of the proposed reforms; and where possible, the potential risks and benefits.  We also provide practical advice and recommendations for consumers, on how to navigate the changing health care system and obtain high quality, affordable care for themselves and their families.

The project is partly funded by a generous grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, a limited life foundation that is dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Project materials

A doctor’s office that is all about you: More than 25,000 doctors commit to patient-centered care. This is an investigative report examining issues related to primary care and the “patient-centered medical home.” The article explains what a medical home is, what problems it is designed to solve, where it’s being tried and how to find one, and whether it is achieving its promise and potential. Web link.

Medical Homes: Patient Centered Care video 

Dr. Who? The nurse practitioner will see you now. This report looks at the growing role of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and “advanced practice providers” in care delivery. Nurse practitioners and other alternative clinicians are playing an increasing role in providing timely, accessible care to patients, while leaving the more complex diagnostic and treatment tasks to doctors. In the long run, this emerging division of labor could help contribute to lower health care costs overall, and slower growth in insurance premiums. Web link.

Nurse Practitioners video

The doctor will e-mail you now. This report focuses on five reasons that patient portals and electronic medical records can lead to better health, including improved patient-provider communication, more convenient access to care and advice, more accurate records, faster feedback from providers about tests and treatments, and more-rewarding office visits. The article addresses patient concerns about hacking and information security, and the potential for doctors to be distracted as they type and enter information into computers during office visits. You’ll also find advice for how to get the most out of patient-provider e-mail exchanges. Web link.

Consumers and the Health Care Delivery System: Patient-Centered Medical Homes. We hosted a lively and engaging lunch and panel discussion in December 2013 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the presentations from our panel, which included our two editors who worked on articles in the series, along with three other national experts: Marci Nielsen from the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, Christine Bechtel from National Partnership for Women and Families and the Casey Health Institute, and Peggy O’Kane from NCQA.

How to Live Well Into Your 80s and Beyond: 5 Keys to a Long, Healthful Life.  This report provides a roadmap to staying healthy as you get older, staying socially and intellectually engaged and creating a living situation that is comfortable and safe.   We provide expert advice on how to actively manage your health, keep your body strong, stay mentally sharp, live independently, and move to an easier home if and when you need to relocate. Web link.

Get Healthy Gadgets.  This article from ShopSmart magazine profiles some of the new personal medical devices that help you do a  better job of taking care of yourself, such as heart rate monitors and blood glucose monitors.  Some gadgets even send info to your doctor, so that he/she can check your progress and give you advice.

Better Health Care: Changes to Learn About Now is a 16-page illustrated consumer guide to three broad initiatives aimed at improving the quality of care, empowering consumers, and limiting spending growth.  The initiatives focus on 1) paying providers for the quality of care they deliver, instead of just the quantity of care; 2) putting more actionable information about providers, treatments, insurers and prices into consumers’ hands, so they can make better informed choices; and 3) applying the digital information and social media revolutions to health care.

Better Health Care: Your Medical Data, What You Need to Know Now. There’s a powerful new tool in health care: using large amounts of digital data to help people stay healthy and improve the delivery and quality of care.  Consumer Reports has produced a 16-page guide to help consumers understand how their medical records and data are being used — and privacy concerns surrounding that use.  The guide was produced with support from Atlantic Philanthropies and in collaboration with AcademyHealth.

Glossary of Health-Care Terms   Here’s some words and phrases to help you understand the changes underway in health care.  The glossary is divided into two sections. The first encompasses health insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid, and other public programs. The second deals with what health experts call “the delivery system” —that is, the world of hospitals and doctors and the way care is organized and delivered.

It’s Time to Get Mad About the Outrageous Cost of Health Care. Why we pay about twice as much as citizens of any other developed country— and how you can change the system. Web link.

A Beautiful Death.  Paul Scheier lived a full and loving life. So when his cancer returned at age 86, he said no more hospitals, no chemo. He faced the end on his own terms—something that’s not easy to do in America today. But he showed that it can be done.  Web link.

A Beautiful Death (short documentary video) follows cancer patient Paul Scheier through his final weeks of life — including his funeral — as he, his family, and his caregivers make end-of-life decisions together.

How to Talk About End of Life With Your Family (blog)   The Conversation Project can help.

The Choosing Wisely Caregiving hub provides detailed advice on various topics for seniors, caregivers and those making end of life decisions.   The Hub includes:

  • 13 Choosing Wisely brochures on various topics for seniors, caregivers and those making end of life decisions. This includes a new six page “round-up” that we created on a variety of Choosing Wisely topics, called Advice for Caregivers: Treatments and tests for seniors.

Consumers tell us: Best ways to engage them on health care cost, quality and delivery system reform. We hosted a well-attended breakfast and panel discussion in October 2014 at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The event had more than 80 guests, mainly advocates, including state advocates from Utah, Maine, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. The meeting featured new research on engaging consumers on health care cost, quality and value issues. The session also included new information from Yale and Wisconsin researchers Mark Schlesinger and Rachel Grob along with new findings from Consumers Union’s Lynn Quincy. Lynn also presented new infographics, which were developed through Consumers Union and Atlantic Philanthropies to visually engage consumers on cost and value issues. Following the morning event, a small group made up of state-based advocates, Consumers Union staff and Community Catalyst staff brainstormed on how to turn information about consumers’ attitudes towards the health system into an engagement campaign that addresses value (cost/quality/safety) issues.

Coming soon …

There’s a lot more information on the way!  Our writers and editors are hard at work on features looking at the latest technology to help you keep tabs on your health, age gracefully with some help from the latest system reforms, stay informed on late life healthcare options and the impact of new delivery reform, and prevent wasted healthcare dollars. Check out our “Stay in the loop” section to get updates on our articles, videos, and events.

Accountable Care Organizations –  Resource Links

Accountable Care Organizations and You: Frequently Asked Questions for People with Medicare, 4 page fact sheet published by, February 2014, available in English and Spanish.

What are Accountable Care Organizations, and How Could They Improve Health Care Quality?  By Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December, 2011.

Next Steps for ACOs:  Will this new approach to health care delivery live up to the dual promises of reducing costs and improving quality of care?  Health Affairs/Robert Wood Johnson Policy Brief, January 31, 2012.

Why Accountable Care is a Game Changer (Podcast), by Sandy Hausman, The Commonwealth Fund, May 18, 2012.

The State of Accountable Care Organizations  by the Innovations Exchange Team, Agency for Health Quality and Research, based on an interview with health policy and management expert Stephen M. Shortell, PhD, MPH, MBA  (last updated March 26, 2014)

Building Patient-Centeredness in the Real World: The Engaged Patient and the Accountable Care Organization, by Millenson, Michael. A., National Partnership for Women and Families and Health Quality Partners, 2012.

Our experts

Chuck Bell is Programs Director for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.  Mr. Bell works closely with Consumers Union’s advocacy offices on a wide range of consumer policy issues, including health care, financial services, patient safety and the environment.  In New York, Mr. Bell has also worked with other advocacy organizations to strengthen consumer protections in health insurance and improve public oversight of health insurance companies, through passage of legislation to require prior approval of rate increases in the individual and small group markets. He currently serves on the steering committee of New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage. Mr. Bell holds a B.A. in political science from Antioch University.  He studied at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University in Salem, OR, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international business at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Jamie Kopf is a senior associate editor and edits the monthly Consumer Reports on Health newsletter, as well as contributing health stories to Consumer Reports, ShopSmart, and She specializes in health, lifestyle, science, and beauty topics and reaches 8 million print and digital subscribers monthly. Ms. Kopf also serves as a national spokesperson and has appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show,” CBS “This Morning,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” CNN, Fox Business Network’s “The Willis Report,” and others. She received a MORE (Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence Award) in 2006 for her story, “Joint replacement: 1,001 patients tell you what your doctor can’t.” Ms. Kopf earned a Bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, specializes in coverage of the American health care system, health insurance, and health reform. She is currently blogging daily on the new health care law until Jan. 1, 2014, when it takes full effect. She recently helped develop CR’s Health Law Helper (, a tool that provides personalized health insurance advice. Ms. Metcalf appears regularly on radio and television, including National Public Radio, the CBS “Early Show,” MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes,” NBC’s “The Today Show,” and CNN Headline News. She is a three-time winner of the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and a three-time finalist for the prestigious National Magazine Award. Ms. Metcalf holds an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Lynn Quincy works on a wide variety of health policy issues, focusing primarily on the areas of consumer protection and health insurance reform at the federal and state levels at Consumers Union. Ms. Quincy serves as a consumer representative with National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). She recently completed a grant-funded project that conducted consumer testing of the new health insurance disclosure forms being developed by the NAIC.  Previously, Ms. Quincy was a senior researcher with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., where she performed policy analysis, provided technical assistance, and modeled outcomes in support of state coverage expansion strategies. She holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland.

Nicole Sarrubbo is an external relations manager responsible for initiating, organizing and supporting events and partnerships for Consumer Reports. Ms. Sarrubbo’s specialties include developing communications materials and building relationships that advance our programs and mission. Ms. Sarrubbo previously worked as a health writer for Consumer Reports on Health, Consumer Reports, ShopSmart, and, and specializes in translating complex information into reader-friendly stories. She is also media trained with both taped and live radio and TV appearances on CNN Headline News, Fox News, and ABC. Ms. Sarrubbo holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.


Stay in the loop

Sign up to receive emails about upcoming events, new articles, videos, and other healthcare-related tools that Consumer Reports publishes as part of the Getting Health Care Right series. In addition, we’re happy to send you reprints of articles from our series that you can distribute at meetings and conferences on health reform. Contact Nicole Sarrubbo, external relations manager, at or 914.378.2383.