- Despite high patient satisfaction with health payers, most healthcare consumers associate high healthcare costs with the insurance market, according to a recent survey from Survata on behalf of HealthEdge.
The survey of nearly 2,500 patients revealed that most consumers rate their healthcare coverage high, yielding an average of four points on a five-point Likert scale.
Patients also expressed trust in their health plans, saying that the current health insurance market model is preferable to other proposals.
Sixty-nine percent of patients said they trust the current insurance market model, compared to only 19 percent of those who said they would trust a government-run insurance model. Only 12 percent of respondents said they would trust coverage from a healthcare mega-merger, such as those floated by industry giants like CVS, Aetna, and Amazon.
Despite current approval, patients largely associated their health payers with the rising cost of healthcare. Thirty-one percent of respondents said payers are to blame for high healthcare costs, coming in second only to pharmaceutical companies. Only 19 percent of patients said healthcare providers and hospitals are responsible for increased healthcare costs.
Patients also said they need more from their payers with respect to managing rising healthcare costs. The rate of high-deductible health plan enrollment is climbing, and with that out-of-pocket healthcare costs. In 2017 alone, patient financial responsibility increased by 11 percent, according to a separate report from TransUnion Healthcare.
Patients want their payers to equip them with the tools necessary to manage those high costs, the survey revealed. A total of 40 percent of patients from all age groups said their payers are not delivering on those patient needs. Most prominently, patients cited a need for tools to understand benefits, to engage in wellness activities, and to find less costly healthcare.
Millennials were the most vocal group calling for aid from their payer organizations. Forty-five percent of young adult patients said they specifically want more incentives for engaging in healthy behavior.
Patients over age 73 primarily want access to tools to help them find less costly care, with 28 percent reporting such. Additionally, the Medicaid population overwhelmingly cited a need for tools that help them understand their benefits.
These findings highlight a path forward for healthcare payers, who should leverage patient education and cost containment tools to improve the healthcare experience for their beneficiaries, the report said.
“Health insurance executives should pay very close attention to where consumers hold their trust as well as assign their blame when it comes to health insurance, particularly if member satisfaction is a top organizational goal,” the report authors noted.
“This is a clarion call for health insurers to recognize the buying power of consumers and the discretion that consumers will exercise given the chance to understand the choices they have for healthcare services,” the authors continued.
It will be incumbent for healthcare payers to look into patient engagement tools, price transparency tools, and other strategies to equip patients with the power to seek less costly healthcare. As healthcare costs and patient financial responsibility continue to increase, patients will need assistance in navigating healthcare while still being able to afford it.
“The results of the survey show that while consumers across all of our survey demographics express high satisfaction with their health insurers today, they are looking to these organizations to improve on various services and tools,” HealthEdge CEO Steve Krupa said in a statement. “Consumers are actively looking to their health insurers to provide them with tools to help manage out of pocket costs, incent healthy behaviors and navigate the complexities of their benefits. These factors will become even more important as Millennials and other age groups grow their influence and buying power for healthcare services.”