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UnitedHealthcare Survey Sheds Light on Health Care Consumerism

October 20, 2017

Results from UnitedHealthcare’s 2017 Consumer Sentiment Survey reflect the growth in consumer-driven health care. High-deductible health plans and more out-of-pocket expenses have led to a change in consumer behavior, with more people comparison shopping for high quality, low-cost care.

The annual survey taps into 1,000 Americans’ health care knowledge, opinions, and preferences. Key findings include:

  • More people (about 1 in 3) are using mobile apps and websites to shop for health care 
  • A slight increase in the number of people (42%) likely to try telemedicine
  • Consumers’ need for better health literacy and knowledge 

The percentage of Americans using mobile technology to shop for, and research, health care has doubled since 2012. Not surprising, millennials use mobile apps as their first source of health information. About 44 percent are shopping for health care online.

Despite their increased use of technology, only nine percent of consumers understand four basic health care terms: health plan premium, health plan deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, and co-insurance. This raises questions about consumers’ ability to make informed decisions about the financial impact of their health care decisions.

Less than a quarter of those surveyed correctly answered that the majority (80%) of premature chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, are caused by lifestyle choices like smoking, diet, and exercise. Mobile applications can play a key role in helping with medical consultations and behavior modification in these areas. 

These survey findings should:

  • Encourage health care providers to implement comprehensive mobile-friendly strategies to keep existing patients and attract new ones
  • Prompt providers and payers to increase the use of mobile platforms to educate consumers—and re-evaluate whether their existing platforms and websites are effective 

The survey results support HAP’s increased emphasis on understanding and addressing the needs of consumers. To that end, HAP:

For more information about HAP’s telehealth advocacy, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy. Contact Julie Kissinger, vice president, communications and public affairs, about consumer-related issues.  

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