Americans don't link healthcare cost and quality

For many goods and services low prices are associated with lower quality. However, this is not so for healthcare. Most Americans do not think the price of healthcare services and the quality of care are associated — but it depends how you frame the question, according to a recent survey published in the April issue of Health Affairs

The survey found between 71 and 54 percent of Americans don't link healthcare costs and quality, but they were less likely to make the association between health and quality when asked if high prices were linked to high quality services. When asked if low quality and low prices went hand-in-hand, people were more likely to say yes. 

Researchers also found those who had compared prices in the past were more likely to feel there is an association between price and quality. As for age and demographic, blacks, Hispanics and young people were more likely to see an association than older and/or white survey respondents. 

The authors conclude that consumer pricing tools should be redesigned with behavioral economics applied. The authors wrote that they found these tools vary considerably in how they present, define and label price and quality information. "Findings from behavioral economics about how consumers think about the concepts of price and cost could inform the appropriate and consistent use of these terms in consumer decision tools," they wrote.


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