Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

The Undeniable Link Between Out-of-Pocket Costs and Consumerism

Doug Ghertner President and CEO

Doug Ghertner
President and CEO

This week, Change Healthcare published the results of our research on the relationship between out-of-pocket costs and consumers’ willingness to shop for healthcare.  What our study of user data from three very different clients – a retailer, a manufacturer and a financial services company – confirmed is that as individuals are faced with greater financial responsibility for their cost of care, they are indeed more likely to shop for medical and pharmacy services.

Understanding the correlation between cost and consumer engagement is particularly important when you consider the growing popularity of high-deductible health plans, including CDHPs.  According to the National Business Group on Health, more than 80% of employers will offer a CDHP option in the coming year – and 30%-plus will offer only a CDHP.  For plan sponsors considering such moves, providing tools that enable consumers to make value-based healthcare purchasing decisions – and get real bang for their buck – is critical.  Such tools not only support cost containment, but also encourage population health and employee/member satisfaction and retention – all benefits that drive organization-wide ROI.

Want to learn more about the relationship between out-of-pocket costs and consumerism? Download our latest white paper, “Higher Out-of-Pocket Costs Drive Healthcare Consumerism.”  Want to discuss how our consumer engagement and cost transparency tools can help you make the most of an increasingly captive audience?  Just reach out.  We’re at engage@changeheathcare.com.

The Value of Critiquing the User Experience

Vice President, Implementation and Engagement

Tiffany Pack
VP, Implementation and Engagement

In March, Change Healthcare released its first large scale User Satisfaction Survey. The purpose of the survey was three-fold. First and foremost, we wanted to gauge user satisfaction with our cost transparency and consumer engagement solution, Transparency Messenger™. Because we are a company committed to developing products that are easy-to-understand and easy-to-use, ensuring people “get it” (and love it!) is important to us.

The survey also was designed to help us get a sense for areas of the platform that users may not be fully optimizing – so that we can find new ways to help them do so. In addition, we wanted to see how well users think we are supporting them when they have questions.

Change Healthcare will use all of the survey feedback to continue to enhance the Transparency Messenger user experience. This, in turn, will help us drive engagement and utilization of the tool– the two things that mean the most to our clients.

Here are a few highlights from the March 2013 survey:

Participant demographic makeup:
• 53.6% Male
• 38% Ages 50-59
• 29% Ages 40-49
• 58% Married with Children
• 38% Have One Dependent
• 19% Have Two Dependents

90% of survey participants reported being satisfied with Transparency Messenger, and nearly 70% said that they would definitely recommend Transparency Messenger to a friend.

Another thing we learned from the March survey, which we have already addressed, is that a number of users aren’t clear on how to initiate Transparency Messenger’s savings distance feature – the feature that allows them to tell us how far they are willing to travel to save money on a prescription or medical, dental or vision service. We’ve responded by making distance options more visible within the platform and introducing an additional educational message to reinforce the concept.

At Change Healthcare, it really is about educating, engaging and empowering consumers to make healthcare purchasing decisions that are good for the individual, the plan sponsor and the healthcare industry as a whole. By regularly asking our users and our clients “how are we doing?” we will continue to do this in ground-breaking ways.

Consumers Must be Consumers

I recently talked with Kelly Kennedy for a USA Today story about health insurance options and saving money… and made the point that when it comes to healthcare today, consumers need to behave like consumers.

Fortunately, I seemed to get my points across…  that with rising healthcare costs today, patients need to shop… and high deductible health plans do an admirable job of spurring that behavior.

In days past, most people didn’t ask how much a service cost because the bill went straight to the insurance company and the consumer never really felt the pain. (After all, healthcare costs $20, doesn’t it?)  Now, with almost 61 percent of employers planning to implement consumer driven health plans this year as a hedge against the ever-rising cost of care, that’s changing. Consumers may have a little more impetus to care about what things cost.

And where previously they might have been shopping blind, with no price tags to guide them on what things actually cost, now with cost transparency tools at their virtual fingertips (like change:healthcare’s Cost Transparency Solution), they’ll know pretty darn close what a service or product or care will cost BEFORE they buy it, and can make far more informed purchase decisions.

There are lots of savings to be had, too.

A recent assessment of our own nationwide database confirmed that without changing a thing about how healthcare is delivered, employees can save, on average, $350 each per year in their healthcare purchases.   Multiply that times the number of self-insured employees nationwide and you’re talking billions in savings.  Yeah, billions, with a “b.”

From where I sit, enabling consumers to become better purchasers — and then giving them the informational tools that aid their shopping — can be a great first step in dramatically decreasing the cost of healthcare in this country.

All we need to do is get consumers to simply be consumers.

Women are the Drivers in Healthcare Shopping

For some time now, a chief complaint among employers has been, “How do we get employees to care about their healthcare benefits and the associated costs?”  For anyone who’s read this blog, you know that I’m a bit obsessed with that mission as well.

Last week I read two new research reports that allude to an increasing consumer involvement in healthcare.  Many of the statistics reveal that companies have a real opportunity to be heroes to their employees where cost transparency is concerned. Music to my ears.

  • In the February issue of EBRI Notes, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reported on its 2010 Health Confidence Survey, concluding that “women, younger individuals and those with more education were more likely than others to seek information on cost, quality and access. It also found that individuals who experienced an increase in either premiums or cost sharing were more likely than those who did not experience such an increase to seek (healthcare) information.” And a quarter of the population looked for costs of different treatments, doctors and hospitals.
  • In another study focused on how employees make healthcare decisions, the National Business Group on Health stated that 75 percent of workers use their employer as a resource for medical and health information. Additionally, 69 percent rate their employers as completely, very or moderately trustworthy sources of health information.

In my judgment, the upshot of both of these studies is that as more consumers (read: employees) are paying a greater share of the cost of healthcare, they’re beginning to seek more information about the quality and cost of care.  We’re seeing this trend reinforced in the use of our Cost Transparency Solution. Data development from the change:healthcare informatics team shows that even in an employee population that is only 37 percent female, more than 50 percent of the employee engagement with the change:healthcare Cost Transparency Solution is through women.

We know that women are responsible for more than 80 percent of healthcare purchase decisions. It’s great to see that play out within our own client base. American’s know how to shop – American women are experts. The healthcare system should cater to women, and shopping.