Americans Want Transparency in Healthcare Pricing

November 30, 2019

Half of U.S. adults surveyed say they avoid seeking medical care because of cost, and they want upfront pricing of medical services.

Most American adults believe that healthcare is too expensive, and they want to know the cost of care before receiving treatment. That is the conclusion of a recently released survey by HealthPocket, a Silicon Valley-based tech company and free information source designed to help consumers find medical coverage.

HealthPocket polled 1,100 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 in November and it was weighted to get representative samples from each state based on population.

The majority (85%) of those surveyed say that healthcare costs in general are too high, and 51% say they have avoided seeking medical care because they lack the ability to pay.

Related: 5 Things Consumers Want From Healthcare

The survey found that prices are a priority, with 91% saying that costs for medical services should be as readily available as prices are on a restaurant menu. In fact, 78% have been afraid to go to the hospital because of cost, with an overwhelming majority (96%) saying that hospitals should be upfront about the cost before treatment. Given the option, 86% said they would compare prices before going to the hospital if prices were posted online.

Four in 10 (41%) of those surveyed say they have been unable to pay a medical bill at some point. Meanwhile, nearly 30% currently have medical debt. When given an option of how medical bills that can't be paid should be handled, 46% believed they should be put on a payment plan; another one in four (25%) said that the government should pay the doctor or hospital; 13% said the debt should just be forgiven; and 12% said volunteer work should be done in exchange for a discount.

The survey also revealed that three in four (73%) Americans don't think that someone should have to declare bankruptcy over unpaid medical bills. When asked if unpaid medical bills should impact one's credit score, a majority (77%) said no. When asked what the best fix is for our healthcare system, only 3% said to leave it as is.

Some other key findings:

  • 71% needed some kind of medical care outside of a routine wellness visit in the last year

  • 49% have used their health insurance two or more times in the past year

  • 11% with medical debt have considered declaring bankruptcy

  • 47% think the government should forgive the $81 billion in past-due medical debt

  • 51% think everyone should have the same healthcare even if they don't spend the same amount to get it

The survey can be found at https://www.healthpocket.com/health-insurance-insights/medical-debt-in-us-2019