healthcost-crop-600x338In today’s consumer-driven environment, a surprising 50% of Americans still say they have no desire to be actively involved in their health care decisions, according to a study conducted by Alegeus.  Even fewer than that say they regularly compare costs, research treatment options, look into stats like quality and success ratings, or seek second opinions.  And a third of Americans don’t do those things at all.

This lack of engagement is echoed in their interaction with their health insurance carriers and health care providers.  Less than 1/3 have been intentional about visiting online health care portals, downloading mobile apps, or calling customer service.  Forty-three percent say they’ve never done any of those.  Almost half of Americans don’t know what their plan covers or how much they can expect to pay for their annual health care costs.

These stats are even more disturbing in light of the fact that 2/3 of respondents said they’re often afraid they’re not being billed the correct amount by providers, and more than half said they have no idea how much their services are going to cost until the bill comes.  Less than a third say they compare prices for medical services they receive.

The good news is that when the focus is shifted towards those who are covered by consumer-driven health plans, like high deductible plans or those with associated savings accounts, those numbers looked drastically different.  People enrolled in these plans were generally more knowledgeable about health care coverage and terminology.  They were almost 50% more likely to compare costs when making health-related purchases, 1/3 more apt to engage in a dialogue with their service providers, and two times as likely to participate in company wellness initiatives.

As the shift towards consumer-driven health care continues, the burden will fall on individuals to take more responsibility for managing their health care costs and becoming more financially savvy patients.  There’s still much room for improvement, but the evidence seems to show that, when consumers have to fork over more of their own money for their medical care, their involvement becomes considerably more active.

To read more about the study’s findings, click here for the full article on BenefitsPro.