Health care consumerism—when patients take more control over researching their medical care and associated expenses—is on the rise in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to TransUnion Healthcare’s second annual patient survey.

The September 2020 survey of more than 3,000 consumers who had either visited a hospital, health care clinic, doctor’s office or other health care organization for treatment during the past 12 months shows that nearly six in 10 patients (59%) deferred non-COVID-19 related medical care during the past six months, according to a news release from TransUnion.

Results of the survey also show 49% of survey respondents—an increase of seven basis points from 2019—reported the current economy has influenced how they seek medical care to some extent.

“Our latest survey illustrates to providers just how important it is to offer flexible care delivery options and payment experiences for their patients during this period of uncertainty, as well as understand and address individual payment needs,” said David Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare.

Economic challenges are causing younger generations to drive health care consumerism. For example, one-third (33%) of Generation Z and 29% of millennial patients reported their health insurance coverage was impacted due to the pandemic (compared to 22% of overall respondents, 18% of Generation X and 12% of baby boomers), according to the news release.

There is also a tie between the increasing trends in health care consumerism and price transparency requirements for health care providers (outlined in our cover article in this issue).

Additional findings in the survey include:

  • 80% of respondents utilized either health care provider or payer/insurance websites, among other sources, to research health care costs, compared to 75% in 2019.
  • Among younger generations, 90% of Generation Z respondents and 87% of millennial respondents researched these resources compared to 69% of baby boomer respondents.
  • 47% of recent patients selected their health care provider based on cost.
  • When it comes to price transparency, the survey shows 53% of recent patients received clear cost estimates prior to receiving medical care.
  • While the number of patients receiving clear cost estimates did increase from 2019, TransUnion found only 52% of respondents completely understood their financial responsibility for their recent medical bill.

More information: See Data Watch for a chart from the survey.

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