All About Transparency: Popular Health Care Cost Searches of 2019
With millions of searches for health care cost estimates taking place in HealthSparq One each year, we’re always excited to see which services people search for most. This not only helps us best understand our users’ needs but gives us insight into the overall state of health care shopping and consumers’ health care needs.
One very meaningful finding from the analytics is that all of the top search categories are highly shoppable services! In health care, shoppable services are simply non-emergency services that can be scheduled in advance. When these come out on top of our search list, it means that both our health plan clients and our user experience designers are doing a great job of helping people understand how to best use the tools we offer to save money, get convenient care and better understand their health care experience.
And without further ado, the most frequent health care cost estimate searches of 2019 are….
- Imaging (18.3% of all searches). In the top spot is arguably one of the most shoppable services in health care: imaging. In many cases, x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds can be viewed as commodity services and all can have wide price variations – which makes shopping for them all the more impactful. Due to the frequency of need for imaging services relative to other health care services, imaging also provides a great chance for health plans to educate their members about price variation and the benefits of shopping around, while guiding members to more cost-effective care.
- Office Visit (9.3% of all searches). You need one, I need one, we all need one! It makes sense that office visits are a highly searched service—we all need a doctor at some point or another. Often, however, a search for an office visit can be an opportunity to highlight telehealth as a cost-saving alternative for members. Why go in person when you can connect with a physician for minor needs from right where you are? Helping users find the right doctor, at the right time, that meets their needs while helping them understand the costs is core to everything we do. Helping people search for a provider online is important—and helping them select the right one and the right venue for their current needs is even better.
- Lab Tests (8.1%). Similar to imaging services, lab tests are highly shoppable health care services – and we love seeing them so high in our rankings for 2019. These kinds of services are a great place to start raising awareness about cost variation and encourage members to shop around and see how prices differ. More people need to understand that the locations for lab test don’t usually differ in quality, but they can have wide cost variation – so choose to pee in a cup or get your blood drawn at a cost-effective provider!
- Preventive Services (7.9% of all searches). Preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies are often ignored or delayed. It’s great to see these two services in our top 5 because we know we’re delivering a convenient experience to members who want to understand where they can go, how much they should expect to pay, what’s involved in the service, and how to get their appointment scheduled. Preventative care is incredibly important, so help keep your health plan members healthy by communicating with them as they reach the age for colonoscopy and get them to take action.
- Pregnancy (5.5% of all searches). Having a baby on the way is a very exciting time for people, but it requires a lot of preparation! With an extended episode of care like pregnancy, the choices made at the beginning can have a huge financial impact down the line. Understanding what the full cost of care and the timeline of services along the way looks like is a brilliant step for your peace of mind – and your pocketbook.