Insurers and hospitals/providers have been able to increase levels of trust in their subsectors. Meanwhile, both the biotech and pharmaceutical industries are moving backwards in trust, according to a new global study.
The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer provides both reason for optimism and concern for the U.S. healthcare sector. First, health insurance, the least trusted healthcare subsector in the United States in 2015, increased by four points (from 47 to 51), the most of any subsector this year.
“Trust in those on the front lines of delivering care or on the shelf delivering value to consumers is on the rise, while trust in the research-based companies that deliver the innovation through these channels is declining,” says Kym White, Edelman’s global chair, health sector.
According to White, an additional 9 million people in the United States received health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act and that increase “is quite possibly contributing to the increase in trust [for insurers and hospitals/providers], despite frustration and disappointment with the cost of health plans,” White says.
“Additionally, in order to compete on the individual insurance exchanges, insurers are increasingly marketing themselves directly to consumers and engaging in a way that they haven’t had to in the past,” she continues.
For example, health insurers are engaging in more direct-to-consumer communications, sponsoring consumer programs that incentivize people to exercise, eat healthier and generally improve their health outcomes.
“This newly consumer-facing behavior may be advancing the health insurance industry’s connection with patients who increasingly can or must make choices among them,” White says.
Hospitals/clinics increased by one point from 65 in 2015 to 66 in 2016 and remain the most trusted healthcare subsector in the United States.
“We attributed this to the fact that more and more people are being brought into the healthcare system and having experience with those on the frontlines of care that are advancing trust, while other parts of the healthcare ecosystem that are removed from the actual provision of care do not get the same benefit,” she says. “This is especially true in the United States as the increase in healthcare coverage is also resulting in more people interacting with healthcare providers who are becoming the face for the entire industry.”