Study: 20% of Americans tried to compare multiple providers' costs prior to care

Amid the rising popularity of high-deductible health plans, healthcare consumers are searching for cost information before receiving care. However, they often have trouble finding what they are looking for, according to a study conducted by the nonpartisan Public Agenda.

The study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation, examined data from a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 American adults and representative surveys of 802 New York state adults, 819 Florida adults, 808 Texas adults and 826 New Hampshire adults. The surveys took place from July through September 2016.

Here are eight study findings.

1. Half of Americans have tried to determine their out-of-pocket costs, excluding copays, and/or how much their insurers would pay, before receiving care, the study found.

2. More Texas, Florida and New Hampshire residents have tried to find healthcare cost information price comparisons than New York state residents and Americans overall.

3. Twenty percent of Americans have tried to compare multiple providers' costs before receiving care, according to the study.

4. Researchers found 70 percent of Americans believe higher healthcare prices do not reflect better quality of care. They said the percentage was similar in New York state, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire.

5. Fifty-nine percent of Americans who tried to compare prices picked a physician, hospital, medical test or treatment that was more affordable.

6. Among those who have never tried to find price information prior to care, 40 percent specified they would be prone to pick less expensive physicians if they knew prices beforehand, according to the study.

7. Researchers said more than half of Americans (57 percent) who had not tried to find price information before receiving care specified they want to know the prices of medical services in advance. But they said 51 percent of them also specified they are not sure how to accomplish their goal.

8. The study found a vast majority of Americans — 63 percent — believe there is not enough information about how much medical services cost, compared to only 23 percent who said there is enough information.

Access the full study findings here.

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