Inability to pay for health care has been a major driver for many to avoid the health care system, but simply not being sure if a service is affordable is enough of a deterrent for many Americans. According to new research by HealthSparq, a health data company, as much as 44% of people may be deterred from obtaining health care services because of price uncertainty.
The research was based on a survey done in January of 2022, which chronicled 1,006 individuals across the United States. Focusing solely on insured individuals, the survey asked respondents about their awareness and use of health insurance price transparency tools, such as websites where clients can find in-network doctors and learn about estimated procedure costs. Some 70% of respondents reported being aware of health care transparency tools offered by their health insurance plan, compared to only 49% of respondents in 2021.
Respondents answered questions about a range of different price transparency tools. The most common resource respondents had access to was a tool to find in-network physicians, which was available to 72% of those surveyed. Other resources had lower rates of availability, with only 53% of respondents saying they had the ability to choose a PCP online, and only 50% of people having access to cost estimates for expected care.
Lack of transparency may contribute to the 44% of people who avoid obtaining health care because they don’t know what it will cost. And it’s a number that’s seemingly quickly growing: in 2021, only 25% of people reported avoiding care because of cost uncertainty.
“All respondents in our survey have health insurance, so seeing the rates of care avoidance due to uncertainty about costs is concerning and something health plans need to take note of,” shared General Manager of HealthSparq, Mark Menton, said in a statement.
Other key findings of the report include:
- * Around 89% of respondents would like to have access to cost estimates for out-of-pocket care.
- * Individuals in the 18- to 34-year-old age group were more likely than older respondents to avoid care because of price uncertainty. However, younger people were also more likely to use their health plan website to obtain cost estimates or other information about procedure pricing.
- * Most people trust their insurance companies: 51% of respondents reported highly trusting their health insurance companies overall, while 75% of them trust their health insurance companies to offer accurate cost estimates for procedures.