Few People Use Pricing, Quality Data in Health Care Decisions

April 21, 2015 in News

Few individuals use quality and pricing data on physicians and hospitals to make their health care choices, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll published Tuesday, Kaiser Health News reports.

Background

According to KHN, there has been a recent push in the public and private sectors to increase health care transparency. For example, the federal government now publishes more than 100 hospital quality ratings. Some private insurers also publish hospital quality ratings. In addition, individuals can now use online health insurance exchanges to compare coverage costs, such as premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for medical care.

Poll Findings

The poll, which surveyed 1,506 adults from April 9 to April 14, found that roughly two-thirds of respondents reported difficulties finding information on hospitals’ and physicians’ exact prices for treatments or procedures. Meanwhile, only about 20% of respondents reported seeing price or quality data about doctors, hospitals or insurers.

Further, the poll found that quality and pricing data do not have much effect on consumers’ health care choices. For example, the survey found:

  • Fewer than 9% of respondents said they used pricing data when making decisions on health plans;
  • About 6% of respondents said they used quality data when making a decision about a doctor, hospital or insurer; and
  • 3% of respondents reported using pricing information when making decisions about physicians.

Meanwhile, the poll found 47% of insured respondents under age 65 said they would be able to immediately pay an unanticipated medical bill of $500 in full, while others said they would have to:

  • Borrow money to pay the bill;
  • Pay the bill in installments;
  • Pay the bill using a credit card; or
  • Not pay the bill at all.

Such payments would be even more difficult for individuals who were not insured, according to the poll (Rau, Kaiser Health News, 4/21).

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