New Research Points to How Critical Healthcare Cost Information Is

For the fourth year in a row, HealthSparq surveyed more than 1,000 individuals across the country to understand their thoughts and behaviors across a number of healthcare topics. This year, the data painted a complicated picture around healthcare transparency and the impact of healthcare costs. 

More people than ever report having–and using–healthcare transparency tools: 

  • 70% of consumers report having access to transparency tools, up substantially from last year.
  • Two-thirds of consumers who report having transparency tools have used them in the past year.

While transparency tools overall are more widely available, only 50% of those with transparency tools report having access to cost estimates for healthcare services. Still an improvement over previous years (41% reporting having cost estimates in our 2021 survey), this lack of access to cost information is impacting people’s health.

Why? A high number have also skipped care because they weren’t sure what the cost would be. This is worrying for both people’s health and the long-term cost of care. 

  • Overall, 44% of respondents say they have avoided getting care because they didn’t know what the costs would be. 
  • 63% of those age 18-34 report avoiding care due to unknown costs. 
  • 51% of those with a high deductible health plan have avoided getting healthcare services because they were unsure of the cost.

Increased education around healthcare prices and a focus on improving member engagement are critical for health plans. Below are a few action items health plans can consider to help close the gaps in accessing care by ensuring the members have the information they need.. 

Make information easy to find. 

Respondents in this year’s survey specifically cited a desire for health plans to make information easier to find, with 48% of respondents saying this was one way a health plan could improve the way it communicates with them. Additional areas for improvement include: 

  • Allowing members choose the way they are contacted (phone, email, text, etc) (46%)
  • Personalize communication based on an individual’s health needs (43%)

Providers are key to your engagement strategy.

  • One-quarter of consumers look to their health plan first when searching for a doctor
    • The majority of consumers consider whether a doctor is in-network to be one of the most important factors in searching for a doctor

Go above and beyond the basics.

  • 71% would like to schedule appointments through their health plan website. However, less than half (41%) currently are able to do so.
  • 62% wish their health plan offered more in-depth provider profiles

With the No Surprises Act and Transparency in Coverage top of mind for health plans, the gap between awareness and support points to a need for increased education. Now is the time for health plans and the healthcare industry to educate consumers and make changes that positively impact healthcare consumers.

You can download the 2022 Healthcare Consumer Sentiment Report by clicking the button below.