Vitals Lists 6 Common Consumer Health Care Surprises

Transparency tools and incentive programs help consumers avoid health care pitfalls

See the related infographic.

December 8, 2014 – LYNDHURST, NJ – Unlike holiday presents, health information shouldn’t be a surprise. However, many Americans experience unwelcome frustration when looking for care – from the search for quality doctors to unexpected medical costs.

Vitals, a leader in providing online transparency tools and data, helps consumers find top doctors and make informed decisions about their medical care. Today they released a holiday-themed infographic that looks closer at six common surprises that consumers experience as they navigate the health care system.

  1. Concealed information Detailed cost and quality information about medical care is hard to find and access.
  2. Price Differences –Depending on the facility, the price for the same procedure can vary by up to 500%. The University of California San Francisco found that an appendectomy in the state could cost anywhere from $1,529 to $182,955. Those price fluctuations happen across the country. Indeed, most patients don’t know they can save thousands of dollars just by driving to a different town.
  3. Limited Access – The average American is waiting19.5 days to see a doctor, according to Merritt Hawkins’ 2014 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times. The introduction of narrow network plans also limits consumer access to physicians.
  4. Complex systems – When it comes to health literacy, the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center found that 80 million Americans find it hard to interpret health information. Gaps in literacy can make choosing the right health plan more difficult and an even lead to poorer health outcomes.
  5. Fewer doctors According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 45,000 more primary care physicians are expected to be needed by 2020. Many doctors are opting to go further with their education and specialization, leaving less primary care doctors to oversee the general population.
  6. Poorly designed tools – While many health plans offer online cost estimators, only 2 percent of consumers are utilizing them, says reports from Catalyst for Payment Reform.

“There’s no doubt that the consumer experiences too much shock and awe when it comes their health care,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. “Better structured tools, information and incentives that engage are needed for consumers to avoid pitfalls and navigate a health system that is placing more of the cost burden on consumers.”

High-deductible health plans are the fastest growing health benefit plan. While HDHPs keep premiums low, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits can be steep. In a recent Vitals survey, 42 percent of people worry about medical bills, despite having insurance.

“Light is coming to the dark and confusing corners of the health care marketplace,” said Rothschild. “Transparency and incentive tools that Vitals develops for its websites and health plan partners are putting information into the hands of consumers to help them make more informed decisions about their medical care. We’re entering a new era where there will be a more deliberate and thoughtful consumption of health care. The result will lead us towards a less wasteful, more efficient health care system.”

About Vitals

Vitals is reinventing the way people shop and save on their medical care. We support effective decision-making through cost, quality and access data, as well as reward and incentive programs. 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 plans, hospitals and our leading consumer websites, Vitals helps more than 150 million people each year access better, more affordable care.

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