Consumer confidence up

Healthcare consumer confidence rises 12%.

People are increasingly confident in their ability to pay for healthcare services and less likely to think they will need to delay care for economic reasons, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

According to “Healthcare Indexes: Consumer Confidence,” between March and July, healthcare consumer confidence had risen 12% overall. Those without insurance had overall confidence levels 80% less than average in July 2009.

“Insurance coverage has a powerful effect on confidence levels,” says Gary Pickens, chief research officer for the Healthcare & Science business of Thomson Reuters.

There has been a lot of talk about people deferring care during the recession, however.

“The utilization data we see hasn’t shown significant declines in volume-and these survey results suggests conditions are improving,” Pickens says. “If insurers have seen declines in claims volumes, it probably won’t last.”

Based on these findings, Pickens sees no reason for a big course correction, although executives should watch for regional variations that might differ from the big picture.

“If we were seeing a significant or growing number of people deferring maintenance care over the long-term, payers would want to ensure members weren’t setting themselves up for health problems and higher costs down the road-but it appears we’re avoiding that scenario,” he says.

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