While people believe that their healthcare experiences are positive, they admit to having very little control over their journeys, according to a new study.
Maestro Health’s new data study, “The Consumer Healthcare Paradox,” surveyed 1,000 consumers aged 25+, and explores the American public’s general perception on high-quality healthcare versus how much it costs. Findings show that, surprisingly, 78% describe their healthcare as positive, but only half of respondents feel the healthcare they receive is equal to or greater than what it costs.
“When we drill deeper into the data, we see that the majority of folks have grown accustomed to not understanding their medical bills or what visits and procedures should actually cost,” says Nancy Reardon, chief strategy and product officer, Maestro Health. “There is room for improvement across the entire healthcare industry.”
Reardon says it was surprising to see such a resounding number of people consider their healthcare experiences positive, despite the other survey findings. Fifty-five percent (55%) of people have experienced a higher-than-anticipated medical bill, 69% don’t feel empowered to control their healthcare journeys, and half don’t think they care receive is equal to what is costs.
“How do people consider this a positive experience?” asks Reardon.
According to the data, over half of respondents think the healthcare system “is what it is,” or is impossible to change. Those in this group cite one root cause: lack of sufficient support in a system they don’t believe is looking out for their wellbeing. When asked all the ways to improve upon their healthcare experience, consumers cite the top three as lower costs (52%), the ability to seek out care from any healthcare provider (37%) and having one resource to select a doctor, manage claims, and pay bills (28%).
Related article: Tackling True Cost Transparency in Healthcare
While consumers recognize the importance of seeking out healthcare despite high costs and difficulty navigating the system, there is a disconnect between the care they expect and the care they receive. Seventy six percent (76%) of people reported visiting a primary care physician within the last year. Yet, only half of all respondents feel the healthcare they receive is equal to or greater than what it costs, and more than half have received medical bills that were higher than anticipated. Consumers are conditioned to do what it takes to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. This means regularly seeking out quality care but without fully understanding what they are paying for and why.
Reardon hopes these findings encourage healthcare leaders to:
- Increase transparency when communicating with patients and members about healthcare costs, expectations and what will truly improve overall well-being.
- Look for a solution. “Patients and members should by no means leave a doctor’s appointment without understanding what it will look like on the impending medical bill,” she says. “While cost is an industry-wide issue, providers and health plan administrators must work on better communicating (or as we like to think about it, marketing) to patients and members.”
One thing is for certain, Reardon says: the healthcare industry has reached its tipping point.
“We in the industry know this and are conditioned to want to do something about it. But we also want to know how the tipping point is impacting the general public. Yes, their costs are too high,” she says. “Yes, they are confused when it comes to their health and benefits. Yes, they lack resources and support. We want to know whether they are aware of how much more they deserve.”