70% of Employees Not Price Shopping for Health Care

Only 29% of health benefit plan sponsors offer a price comparison tool, a survey finds.

Seventy percent of employees do not compare prices before shopping for medical services or pharmaceutical drugs, according to a May 2016 HealthMine survey of 750 consumers enrolled in wellness programs.

Despite growing industry and consumer awareness that medical procedure costs vary widely by location and provider, only 29% of health benefit plan sponsors offer a price comparison tool, respondents reported. There was great interest in having a price comparison tool to help manage health care costs: 42% of respondents said having a price comparison tool in their wellness program is “very important,” and 48% said it would be “nice to have.”

However, asked why they don’t compare costs before scheduling services, 41% said it is because the “cost is covered by my health plan, so it doesn’t matter.”  One-third (34%) of respondents indicated they do not select medical services based on price, and 10% said it is too difficult or takes too much time to price shop.

Among those respondents who do price shop for health care, 45% call doctors within their health plan network, 35% use a tool provided by their plan sponsor, 14% use an online tool and 8% ask family and friends.

“As Americans learn how to be better healthcare consumers, their plan sponsors can help facilitate better transparency by providing access to cost comparison tools,” says Bryce Williams, CEO and president of HealthMine a healthcare technology company.