For five years from 2007 to 2012, Criterion took an incredible journey to discover the root causes of medical debt and to design an innovative approach to alleviate the burden.
With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, Criterion led a group of diverse participants in an exhaustive consultative process to name and define the issues surrounding medical debt and ultimately to reframe the issue from a problem of medical debt to opportunities presented by a stunted and inefficient cash market created by the uncovered costs of healthcare.
The research and development process comprised an 8-month period of intensive research alongside large-scale networking around the nature of the problem, possible solutions and innovations in healthcare finance.
During this time, we convened three summits:
  • The Mapping Summit focused on understanding the scope and the impact of the patient portion of medical costs.  The results of this phase are presented in the Mapping Report, which was not only central to this project but became informative for how we use financial tools to shape market systems in later years.
  • This led us to the Design Phase, during which we broke apart the larger issues impacting healthcare and worked on identifying leverage points, or places of shared pain where change is possible. Through this process, we were able to identify components of the system that could be re-organized to lead to solutions.
  • A defining moment occurred during the Modeling Phase, when we discovered that the uncovered costs of healthcare formed a stunted and irrational $300 billion cash market and that a solution could be found in rationalizing that market. These findings are presented in the report, The Cash Market in Healthcare.
In response to our findings, Criterion launched Healthcare_Uncovered, a venture designed to rationalize the cash market through a community organizing approach paired with a card-based technology platform. The Healthcare_Uncovered approach was designed to result in greater access to health-directed cash purses, increased transaction transparency for patient and provider, and enhanced financial control for individuals and families.  
With the launch of the Affordable Care Act,  the Healthcare_Uncovered project was put on hold.

Criterion Institute, 501(c)(3) 81 Church Hill Rd · Haddam, CT 06438 860-345-3520 (main) · info@criterioninstitute.org ©2021, all rights reserved.

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