By Alan Goforth
Two-thirds of Americans consider themselves to be smart consumers when it comes to health care
, according to a new survey from the Vitals Index. Unfortunately, many of them are wrong.
Forget knowledge of sophisticated treatments and technology; 60 percent of respondents don’t even know where their doctor attended medical school. Younger consumers are less likely to know this information, and more than 10 percent said it doesn’t matter.
Perhaps worse yet, most consumers get an “F” when it comes to defining basic terms related to care:
Percentage who can define these health care insurance terms:
Co-pay — 82
Deductible — 66
FSA — 51
Formulary — 47
Co-insurance — 23
AVERAGE — 59
Although some results may be humorous, low medical IQ is no laughing matter for those trying to hold the line on expenses. Only one-third of respondents negotiate their bills with a doctor or hospital. The same percentage knows the cost of a medical service or procedure before receiving care. More women (39 percent) than men (29 percent) ask for the price upfront.
“At a time when the price of care can vary by thousands of dollars from clinic to clinic and high deductibles are more common, consumers need to know how to compare prices before they go see a doctor,” said Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals. “No shopper would buy a TV without knowing how good it is and how much it costs. We should buy health care with that same level of transparency.”
Households with incomes of less than $50,000 annually are less likely to know a doctor’s background or understand insurance terms, and they are 50 percent less likely to negotiate medical bills.
“The people who could benefit the most from the system simply don’t know how to navigate it,” Rothschild said. “That’s not only a matter of financial well-being but of personal well-being. It’s clear that better education and access to meaningful transparency tools is necessary at all levels to improve the health and wealth of Americans.”
On a positive note, the survey found that about 80 percent of consumers regularly ask for generic equivalents of their prescriptions
to save money, and 67 percent know that retail clinics offer flu shots at less expense than most doctor offices or hospitals.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com