MYTHBUSTER: Consumers favor higher priced providers

September 26, 2017

Not too long ago, we busted the myth that high prices mean high quality care and that we can’t extend the retail mindset to health care.  But do consumers actually believe that more expensive providers are better?

This time around, we’re exploring a new angle to this myth.

Recent research by Public Agenda, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation, sheds light on how Americans attempt to find and use health care price information and how residents of four states—New York, New Hampshire, Florida and Texas—are doing so. According to their report, most Americans understand that health care price and quality are not associated.  Furthermore, “70 percent of Americans say, for example, that higher prices are not typically a sign of better medical care.”

But not so fast… this doesn’t mean there isn’t still work for us to do on the consumer side.

Public Agenda also found that despite generally understanding that you don’t get what you pay for in health care, Americans still have limited awareness that health care prices vary in the first place.  37 percent of Americans believe that doctors charge the same prices for the same services, while 32 percent believe that hospitals charge the same prices for the same services.

As consumer beliefs about health care prices and quality change over time and become more integral to the success of certain benefit designs, it’s important for employers and purchasers to make sure those beliefs are well informed.  One way to do just that is to source a transparency tool that seeks to educate consumers as they shop for care.  Check out our newly released 2017 Toolkit: Selecting and Evaluating a Price Transparency Tool to find out how you can distinguish between the tools that are doing this well and those that need a nudge.


Interested in the future of consumer incentives in benefit design? We are too.

We are eagerly awaiting what the experts share with us during our upcoming Virtual Summit on October 12.   Register today to join the debate.

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