Employers Increasingly a Resource for Health Information

February 1, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The number of U.S. employees who turn to their employer and health plan for medical and health information has increased sharply over the past few years, according to a nationwide survey of employees conducted by the National Business Group on Health.

The survey found that three in four workers (75%) used their employer as a resource for medical and health information in 2010, a sharp increase from 54% in 2007. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) rated their employers as completely, very or moderately trustworthy sources of heath information.  

The percent of workers who relied on their health plan for health and medical information increased from 67% in 2007 to 76% in 2010. A press release said growing numbers of workers also relied on health-oriented Web sites while fewer workers sought information from doctor’s offices, published articles, prescription drug package inserts, pharmacists, and medical school, hospital and government Web sites.   

Other key findings, according to the press release, include: 

  • 85% of respondents looked for health care information about symptoms before visiting a doctor while 71% of respondents said they brought a list of questions to ask their doctor during a visit. However, 41% indicated they were unsure how to discuss their concerns while 47% felt their doctors were rushed during the visit. 
  • Almost four in ten employees (39%) support incentives for using proven treatments versus 16% who support penalties for using treatments that research has shown work less effectively.  


The survey also found a vast majority of employees are somewhat familiar with Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), which can help doctors and patients know what type of health care works best by comparing the effectiveness of different health tests or treatments.   

When asked how much they trust various organizations to conduct comparative research, 74% cited non-profit organizations focused on a specific illness as trust worthy organizations, while 70% citied an independent panel of doctors and other health professionals. Just over six in ten (61%) said they trusted a college, university, or other educational institution to conduct comparative research.  

The survey, “Employee Attitudes Toward Health Information and Comparative Effectiveness Research,” was conducted in mid-October, 2010. A total of 1,538 employees at organizations with 2,000 or more employees responded. Respondents were between the ages of 22 and 69 and receive their health care benefits through their employer or union.