I’m intrigued by a recent Harris Poll study initiated by by Change Healthcare. I don’t want to parse the entire but I do want to highlight something Perficient has been talking about for a while in terms of the consumerism trend. Healthcare’s complexity is an outlier compared to the experience provided by many other industries. When I go online, I can buy a surprising number of services with a full understanding of what I’m buying and how much it will cost. In most aspects of our healthcare experience, we never know the cost until a final bill comes in the mail. The gap between expectations and reality is quite large.
The Harris Poll highlighted this in their summary. Let me quote just a few of the findings:
Consumers want accurate cost estimates from payers, and price transparency from providers. More than half (53%) said they avoided care because they weren’t sure what it would cost, 6 in 10 have gone to an appointment without knowing if they could afford it, 68% reported they don’t know how much a treatment or appointment will cost until months later, and an overwhelming 85% said it should be as easy to compare prices for healthcare as it is for other consumer services.
Consumers find the healthcare system overwhelmingly and unnecessarily complex. A majority of consumers (62%) said the healthcare system feels like it’s designed to be confusing, 61% reported their bills feel more complex than a mortgage payment, and two-thirds said they are asked to manage so many care-related tasks that they “feel like a general contractor” when it comes to addressing their healthcare needs.
On these two items from the poll alone, you can see that healthcare outcomes are impacted. I suspect all of us have seen not only confusion but erroneous bills. I personally have delayed small procedures because of concerns about the cost. In one recent case, I was able to find a lower cost provider but only after 6 phone calls to clinics. In that respect I completely agree with William Krause, VP of Connected Consumer Health at Change Healthcare, “”When half of consumers say they’re avoiding care because the system is too hard to deal with, it has become clear that the effort required to find, access, and pay for care is a social determinant of health.”
We do see many of our clients trying to make the process easier and more transparent. I don’t believe that the entire industry wants it to be this way. Many payers and providers have expressed a desire to move to a better model of consumerism in healthcare. This information is just one more element in making the case for easier access to healthcare and more transparent costs.