EDITORIAL: Helping Young Adults Learn Money Management

by Nat Frothingham

Help appears to be on the way for schoolchildren, college students and young adults struggling to manage their money.

During the last session of the Vermont Legislature a bill was passed in both House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Shumlin to establish a Vermont Financial Literacy Commission.

“Why yet another commission?” one might ask.

Well, it appears that high school and college students and young adults are struggling to manage their money at a time when intelligent money management could well be the difference between life success or failure.

As part of an introduction to the bill that establishes the new commission, we learn the following:

  • That according to a Schwab survey “…parents are nearly as uncomfortable talking to their children about money as they are discussing sex”
  • That only 10 percent of Vermont high schools have a financial literacy graduation requirement
  • That many Vermont college students leave college for “financial reasons”
  • That 63 percent of Vermont four-year college students that graduated in 2012 had a student loan debt that averaged $28,299
  • That Vermonters have an average credit card debt of $9,667

In short, when high school and college students graduate they are under- or ill-equipped to take control of their financial lives. They don’t know how credit works. They don’t know how to budget or how to save.

Little wonder that many of this generation’s young adults have higher unemployment rates than their parents’ generation and owe more money. And they are seldom either saving for a “rainy day” or saving for their retirement years.

It’s easy to establish a commission. It’s less easy to equip a generation with the skills of careful and intelligent money management. And this at a time when college tuitions have gone through the roof, when taxes and costs are high and when some politicians are crying out against “income inequality.”

Financial Imperatives for the Future

Healthcare leaders focused on three big-picture topics while meeting with their peers at the HealthLeaders Media CFO Exchange.

More than 40 financial leaders from provider organizations across the country gathered in August at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the fifth annual HealthLeaders Media CFO Exchange.

These executives represented large health systems with national scope, including Chicago-based Advocate Health Care and Catholic Health Initiatives, headquartered in Englewood, Colorado; regional heavyweights such as Banner Health, based in Phoenix, and Baylor Scott amp; White Health, headquartered in Dallas; community hospitals such as Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio, and South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside, New York; health systems that are community pillars, including Froedtert Health in Milwaukee and Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, North Carolina; safety-net hospitals including Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and The MetroHealth System in Cleveland; academic medical centers such as Boston Medical Center and UC Health in Cincinnati; and for-profit organizations, including Capella Healthcare in Franklin, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama-based Trinity Medical Center, affiliated with Community Health Systems.

As in previous years, attendees help shape the agenda for the two-day event. Three big-picture discussion topics emerged from advance discussions and surveys.

Preparing for the future of healthcare. What do healthcare leaders need to know–about their operations, markets, and regulatory jurisdictions? Healthcare reform is a work in progress. Across the country, fee-for-service revenue remains dominant and the timing of the shift to value-based payment is unknown. CFO Exchange attendees increasingly expect to contend with both reimbursement models indefinitely, which will require a tricky balancing act. Meanwhile, new types of disruptive competitors are encroaching in many markets. Using analytics to understand operations is the foundation for any system improvement. But sufficient data on clinical and financial aspects is elusive, even as the cost of healthcare analytics rises.

The clinical transformation toward value-based healthcare. What should leaders be doing today to prepare their organizations for future delivery models? Each health system must understand its own capabilities to reduce the cost of care while improving quality. CFO Exchange attendees bemoaned the lack of financial success from most accountable care organizations. But efforts continue everywhere to reduce variations in care, improve efficiency and outcomes at the same time, and engage and align employed and affiliated physicians alike.

Business, payer, and clinical partnerships. Who should leaders join with? The consolidation wave in healthcare continues, but with a twist: The number of traditional mergers or acquisitions is nearly matched by looser affiliations, according to HealthLeaders Media research. For hospitals and health systems, establishing partnerships is a key strategy to manage the financial impact of momentous changes in the healthcare industry. CFO Exchange attendees discussed the pressure to partner: to develop clinical affiliations across the care continuum, and to build alliances with payers (both external and internal) to develop risk-based payment models.

The CFO Exchange discussions will be explored in depth in Insights Reports available on our website ( Look to these guides, as well as similar reports from our other Exchange events for CEOs, CNOs, population health executives, and revenue cycle leaders to steer your own organization.

Reprint HLR115-11

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