Exploring the ‘Moments of Truth’ in Today’s Consumer Driven Healthcare Marketplace
Published on August 4th, 2016
Healthcare is becoming more and more consumer directed. We’ve all seen or experienced consumer driven health first-hand, in some way – whether it is determining which health plan is right for our family, making care decisions for a parent or loved one, receiving an unexpected bill for services, or trying to determine if a health benefit account (FSA, HSA, HRA) is the best vehicle to meet our future healthcare needs.
Fundamentally and intentionally, consumer driven healthcare (CDH) shifts responsibility and accountability to consumers for activities such as choosing benefits, planning for out-of-pocket costs, managing healthcare finances, making healthy lifestyle choices, accessing care, shopping for the best value, interpreting bills, and so much more.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
In the not-too-distant past, health plans were benefit-rich and absorbed the majority of costs. Consumers didn’t have to think much beyond selecting their plan – a very set-it-and-forget-it mentality that was only top-of-mind during open enrollment. This has played a huge role in the current state of consumer lethargy as it relates to healthcare. As a nation we lack healthcare fluency and engagement, have often times been irresponsible in our healthcare spending, and, surely have not been focused or disciplined in our healthcare savings.
It is time we change the healthcare perception and empower consumers to better health.
This paradigm shift requires consumers to think differently about their healthcare than they ever have before. It’s clear, however, that consumers may not be fully ready for this change. They are ill equipped to determine the best care and value for themselves, their families, and their healthcare dollars.
Today, Alegeus announced new research findings from a recently commissioned survey of more than 4,000 U.S. consumers that aims to understand attitudes, behaviors, and preferences with respect to managing different aspects of their healthcare. The research affirms that financial decisions, such as planning for out-of-pocket costs, are rising in importance yet causing significant frustration for consumers.
While more than 75 percent of consumers are very focused on getting the best value for their healthcare dollars, less than 33 percent were confident in their decision making across all facets of managing their care – from determining the appropriate savings rate and comparing costs to assessing accuracy of their medical bills and understanding out-of-pocket responsibilities prior to receiving care. In fact, according to this research, 66 percent of consumers rate “planning for out of pocket costs” as the most challenging and stressful aspect of managing their healthcare, and 69 percent claim that deciphering healthcare jargon is a significant barrier to decision-making.
So, where do we go from here? Where do we start?
To transform the consumer healthcare experience, we must engage and empower consumers at the most critical moments in their healthcare journey. At Alegeus, we call these ‘moments of truth,’ or the particular points in time when a consumer must make pivotal choices about their care, such as choosing healthcare benefits, determining the best healthcare savings vehicle, locating an in-network provider, or comparing costs of various providers.
Supporting consumers at these critical moments of truth by providing them with access to necessary information will require comprehensive, year-round programs that educate, engage, and empower consumers. The signals are clear. Consumers feel the impact of the consumerism movement in healthcare. They are struggling and they need significant education, tools, and support that empower them to take ownership and make savvier healthcare decisions.