Consumers are increasingly shopping around for health care coverage, they're especially seeking plans with affordable payment choices, according to the AccessOne Patient Finance Survey, "How healthcare cost information and payment options affect patient behavior."
Two in five consumers responding to AccessOne's survey this year state they would switch providers for access to affordable payment arrangements. Last year, 33 percent of individuals and 43 percent of households with children made the same claims.
"At a time when family health coverage costs as much as an economy car, consumers need up-front information on out-of-pocket costs and affordable payment options - and they're willing to switch providers to get it," the authors write.
It's no surprise that consumers are also looking for price transparency when fulfilling their health care needs. More thank half (59 percent) of survey respondents say providers' willingness to share price information prior to the visit is a key factor in selecting where to seek care. That number rises to 69 percent where Gen Xers are concerned.
“The survey results reflect the pressures consumers face in a rising-rate healthcare environment, where the cost of family health insurance is now $20,000 a year, as much as an economy car,” the authors write. “There are also warning signs for providers of the need to heighten transparency if they wish to retain patients in a cost-sensitive environment.”
Unfortunately, only 31 percent of respondents claim to feel comfortable discussing costs of care with their providers, and 11 percent are uncomfortable bringing the topic up. A more concerning aspect, 74 percent say that in the past two years, their physicians have not spoken with them about patient financing options or even the availability of a payment plan.
“Lack of up-front cost information and discussions is putting stress on the consumer-provider relationship, impacting care decisions and patient satisfaction,” the authors write.
“Unless providers can close the gap between the level of price transparency and affordability consumers desire and the degree of openness and options that currently exists, they risk losing patients to providers that offer low-interest or no-interest payment plans; actively initiate conversations around patients’ out-of-pocket responsibility prior to service; demonstrate care in helping patients find affordable solutions; and show flexibility in response to patients’ needs,” the authors write
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Original article written by: Katie Kuehner-Hebert