Consumers now rate “planning for out-of-pocket costs” (66%) as the most challenging and stressful aspect of managing their health care, according to research from Alegeus, a company providing health care management tools.
Other challenges cited by consumers included managing health care finances (60%), choosing health benefits (55%), and maintaining health and wellness (52%).
Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents rated “predicting my out-of-pocket cost for this year” as challenging or extremely challenging. Fifty percent said determining an appropriate savings rate/goal is challenging or extremely challenging.
Forty-one percent said understanding and managing their benefits accounts is challenging or extremely challenging, and 34% said the same about using payment and reimbursement tools.
The concept of shopping for health care services is foreign to most consumers. This issue will become more important as out-of-pocket health care costs rise. However, the survey finds most consumers don’t know where to start.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said deciphering health care jargon is a significant barrier to decision-making. The main demand from every consumer segment was health care information that’s easy to understand. This was true across all age, gender, health and economic sectors.
Consumers value human interaction above all other types of support. However, as consumers build confidence, their interest in human support declines and their preference for digital tools and self-service options grows. Alegeus says its research clearly signals the need for significant education, tools and support that engages users and empowers them to make savvier health care decisions.
Alegeus CEO Steve Auerbach tells PLANSPONSOR there are numerous health care management tools readily available today, but it can be difficult for consumers to find the right solution without guidance from industry experts. To alleviate this issue, Alegeus created a tool called the “Consumers Like Me Calculator,” which pulls insights from consumer responses to provide guidelines suggesting funding levels based on what “consumers like them” typically contribute.
Healthcare Bluebook, an Alegeus partner, offers several price-measuring tools that can help consumers gauge whether they’re paying fair costs for health care. It also offers access to a searchable price-benchmark database, educational content, and cost savings tips, Auerbach says.
The Alegeus Healthcare “Moments of Truth” research report can be accessed here.