Medical Costs Seriously Impact Household Budgets, Yet Americans Don’t Manage Health Care Costs

Two-Thirds of Americans Surprised by Medical Bill in the Past 12 Months

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015 – LYNDHURST, NJ – According to a recent Vitals Index survey, two-thirds of American adults – about 155 million people – have been surprised by a medical bill in the past 12 months, yet people are not managing the cost of their health care.

As the nation heads into open enrollment period, the time when most Americans choose their health insurance plans, nearly one in four report they don’t know the amount of their health insurance deductible.

With over half of the respondents stating that medical costs “seriously” or “very much” impact their household budget, it would seem more Americans need to get a handle on out-of-pocket health-related medical costs. Yet, roughly three out of five people never ask their doctor about the cost of medical services they’re about to receive.

While 28 percent said price of care wasn’t discussed because they believed insurance would foot the bill, another 30 percent stated they didn’t think their doctor knew the cost. What’s more, another 16 percent said they weren’t aware they could ask about the price of medical services.

In truth, health plans control much of the cost data by negotiating rates with providers. But as more of the cost burden shifts to consumers through high-deductible plans, access to accurate and clear price data is necessary to help Americans find cost-effective care.

“This survey clearly shows that people are blindly consuming health care – much to their detriment,” said Mitch Rothschild, Executive Chairman and Founder of Vitals. “It’s obvious that we need to align incentives and get Americans to care about shopping for high-quality, affordable care.”

Only 7 percent of respondents said they receive incentives from their health plan to shop for cost-effective care, although incentives have been shown to modify consumer behavior. In fact, the survey revealed that 50 percent of consumers would drive an additional 30 minutes to a high-quality MRI center for a $100 cash reward. Over 60 percent would travel an additional 30 minutes to get to a high-quality surgery center for $200 or less.

“The burden of health care is driving millions of Americans into debt and bankruptcy,” said Rothschild. “Progressive health plans and employers have harnessed transparency and incentives programs to drive down the cost of health care by paying patients to comparison shop for better value care.”

To find out more about the tangible savings that can be achieved with transparency and incentive programs, download Vitals SmartShopper Book of Business.

About Vitals

Vitals empowers everyone to shop like an expert for their health care. Vitals does this by creating an efficient health care marketplace for consumers – making them aware of the cost, quality & availability of healthcare provider options. Vitals leads the market with the first transparency and engagement platform that achieves measurable savings for consumers through a retail-like approach to purchasing health care services. Through health plan and hospital clients and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 120 million people each year access better, more affordable care.

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