Few consumers seek healthcare pricing information

Although healthcare experts predict consumers are starting to take more control of how they spend their healthcare dollars, a recent survey conducted by Bucknell Institute for Public Policy in Lewisburg, Pa., suggests few consumers even ask for pricing information.

The survey, conducted in September, indicates just over a quarter of Americans (27.6 percent) seek information about the cost of various healthcare services and procedures. Among those who did seek pricing information, just one in five asked about hospitalization costs, which account for the largest share of healthcare spending, according to BIPP. Instead, consumers were more likely to ask about the costs of physician visits (38 percent), outpatient care (35.8 percent), screenings or tests (35.2 percent), medications (35.1 percent) and dental services (32.4 percent).

"Proponents of high deductible plans argue that they will help slow the growth in healthcare costs by having consumers have more 'skin in the game' with respect to their healthcare," Amy Wolaver, PhD, an economics professor and director of BIPP, said in a press release. "This theory only works if consumers do seek prices and are able to find and use that price information."

The survey found consumers were more likely to seek pricing information if they had health insurance, had at least some college education and earned annual household income of $40,000 or more. African-American consumers were the least likely to ask for price information (22.8 percent asked), while Asian-Americans were the most likely to ask (33.6 percent), followed closely by Latino-Americans (32.8 percent).


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