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Poll finds half of patients avoid seeking care due to difficulties


About two-thirds of respondents say the effort required to find, access, and pay for care is an excessive burden.

The process of finding, accessing, and paying for care is such an excessive burden that half of U.S. patients avoid seeking care, according to the results of a new poll.

The poll, released by Change Healthcare and The Harris Poll, found that more than two-thirds of respondents say that every step of the healthcare process is a chore citing the lack of price transparency and the inability to shop around for care as they do other common services.

“When half of consumers say they’re avoiding care because the system is too hard to deal with, it has become clear that the effort required to find, access, and pay for care is a social determinant of health,” William Krause, vice president of Connected Consumer Health at Change Healthcare, says in a news release accompanying the results. “Consumers want health plans and providers to end the fragmentation, simplify the experience, and deliver a fully connected encounter that makes healthcare as seamless as any other digital endeavor—whether that’s shopping for goods, booking a trip, or paying bills. Payers and providers that streamline healthcare for patients and members will gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

As part of the poll, 1,945 patients were asked to rate the ease or difficulty of finding, accessing, and paying for care in various situations on a scale from one to 200, with 200 representing the most difficult. No respondents described any healthcare activities as easy, while the difficulty of dealing with the healthcare system was ranked as high as 179, with an average across all activities of 117.

Other highlights of the survey include:

  • 81 percent of respondents say that COVID-19 will fundamentally change healthcare delivery, with about 80 percent saying that telehealth has become an indispensable part of the healthcare system and 65 percent saying they will continue to use telehealth after the pandemic.
  • 53 percent say they have avoided care because they didn’t know what it would cost, while 68 percent reported they don’t know how much a treatment or appointment will cost until moths later and 85 percent say it should be as easy to compare the cost of healthcare as it is for other consumer services.
  • 62 percent of the respondents say the healthcare system feels like it’s designed to be confusing while 61 percent say their medical bills seem more complex than mortgage payment and two-thirds say their required to manage so many care-related tasks that they feel like a general contractor.
  • Only one in three respondents say that their provider and health plan communicate too much, while 71 say they want their health plan and 68 percent say they want their physician to communicate using more modern platforms.
  • 81 percent say shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services, while 76 percent say they wish there was a single place they could shop for and by healthcare and 67 percent say they want to shop for healthcare entirely online.
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© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health