Out-of-work Americans Looking For Health Information Would Turn to Web

January 26, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The majority (62%) of Americans faced with being out-of-work or lacking health-care coverage would turn to the Internet for assistance.

Yet, the level of assistance those going online would seek varies widely. Eighteen percent prefer the Web for referrals to relevant community health services, while 16% would use the Internet to both research and treat non-urgent conditions. Additionally, 14.5% would look for a reliable, free online source of medical information, while nearly 13% would use the Internet to research but not treat routine maladies, according to a survey conducted by research firm Synovate for Kaiser Permanente.

Utilizing the Internet for health related advice was also found to be as varied as the nation’s workforce. Asking 1,000 Americans, “If you were out of work and/or lacked health care coverage, how would you regard the role of the Internet in dealing with health matters?” the survey found retirees are the least likely to go to the Net (45%), while part time workers (70%) are most likely.

Additionally, those employed fulltime are somewhat more likely to seek out health resources on the Web (66%) than those out of work (61%). And although the survey probed responses to the hypothetical of lacking health insurance and/or a job, those in the highest income bracket were most amenable to going online (74%); those least affluent were most reluctant (52%) to do so.

Non-whites (66%) are more likely to head for the Internet than whites (61%) in health-related matters. Internet usage is also linked to level of education as high school grads are relatively less likely to take advantage of the Web’s health resources (51%), with college graduates more likely at 67% and post-graduates most likely to do so (75%).

By region, consumers in the West (68%) are more likely to turn to the Internet than those in any other region; Midwesterners (52%) are least inclined. Those in the South (20%) are relatively more likely to rely on the Internet to pinpoint community services, while those in the West (23%) are significantly more interested in using the Net to both research and treat non-urgent conditions. Those in the Northeast (21%) prefer to use the Net to get a reliable, free online source of medical information.