Despite having more financial “skin in the game” than ever, many consumers don’t make any attempt to compare prices for health care services, a newly released study found.
In a survey of nearly 3,000 adults younger than 65, about half of the roughly 1,900 who said they spent money on medical care in the previous year reported that they knew in advance what their costs would be. Of those who didn’t anticipate how much they would owe before receiving care, only 13% said they tried to predict their out-of-pocket expenses. An even smaller proportion, 3%, compared prices from multiple providers ahead of time.
It wasn’t that survey respondents were ignorant of price differences or didn’t care about them. More than 90% said they believed that prices vary greatly among providers, and 71% said that the amount they spent out-of-pocket was important or very important when choosing a doctor. Yet most respondents said they didn’t comparison shop or even ask how much they would owe in copayments or other cost-sharing expenses before they turned up for an appointment.