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Patient loyalty to healthcare providers is at risk over transparency, finds AccessOne survey

Most consumers say providers' willingness to share price information prior to service is a critical factor in determining where to seek care.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Two in five consumers say they would switch providers to access affordable payment arrangements to cover their costs of care -- including half of households with children, an AccessOne survey has found.

That's an increase over 2018 survey figures, when 33% of individuals and 43% of households with children said they would be willing to switch providers for more affordable payment options.

Among more than 1,000 consumers surveyed, three in four are willing to shop around for care based on price, and 38% are already doing so. They're also pushing for cost information before care is delivered, results showed.

Meanwhile, 59% say providers' willingness to share price information prior to the point of service is a critical factor in determining where to seek care -- including 69% of Generation Xers, who typically manage care for themselves, their parents and their children.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

The results come at a time when family coverage per employee costs employers $20,000 a year -- the equivalent of buying an economy car. The impact is that employers are shifting a greater portion of healthcare costs to employees, who struggle to manage these costs.

That's changing consumer behavior in a way that affects providers' market share, and ultimately, clinical outcomes. Providers that address price transparency and affordability are typically better positioned to engender loyalty and trust.

Among other key findings is that there's a price point at which healthcare costs become a concern for consumers. About 40% of consumers aren't sure how they would pay an unexpected medical expense under $500, and 60% say an unexpected medical bill of less than $1,000 would spark worry.

Consumers who don't feel prepared to manage the costs of their care are more likely to postpone treatment, with 56% of consumers having delayed care due to costs, and 26% having postponed care by a year or more based on cost concerns.

Also, two in five consumers expect providers to publish pricing lists for common procedures. These expectations are particularly strong among consumers with families (42%) as well as millennials (43%).

THE LARGER TREND

In November, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released two expected rules requiring hospitals and health plans to make pricing information publicly available.

The proposed rule would require health plans to disclose, on a public website, their negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers.

The final rule in the 2020 Outpatient Prospective Payment System requires hospitals to make their standard charges public, including the negotiated rates with payers. CMS Administrator Seema Verma had delayed issuing the rule earlier so that it could be paired with the proposed rule directed at payers.

The rules follow President Trump's Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare, released this past June.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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