News Feature | May 6, 2016

Survey Reveals Consumer Concern Over Rising Health Insurance Costs

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

HHS Closes ‘No Hospital’ Loophole In Some Insurance Plans

Nearly two-thirds of respondents are concerned about the total cost of their healthcare services.

Consumers are increasingly worried about covering their rising healthcare costs accordingto the findings of a TransUnion Healthcare survey.The survey, which comes as health insurers are about to announce their 2017 rate proposals, found 76.2 percent of consumers are concerned about increased costs.

TransUnion found nearly two-thirds (64.4 percent) of consumers reported being more concerned about the total cost of their healthcare this year than they were last year, reflecting a growing trend of anxiety over meeting their healthcare needs.

In just one example of skyrocketing costs, Oregon health insurers are seeking rate increases of as much as 32.3 percent for 2017, according to The Bulletin. Nine of the 10 Oregon carriers that sell individual policies have asked for rate increases in the double digits, which would affect some 219,000 Oregonians.

Gerry McCarthy, president of TransUnion Healthcare, said, “Consumers are feeling an increased burden from the rising costs for their healthcare premiums, co-pays and deductibles and are paying closer attention to their total cost responsibility. When insurers share their 2017 rate proposals, consumers will not only be interested in the announcements, but also what they can do to alleviate the price shock. We’ve learned that the billing process impacts the overall patient experience and price transparency is critical to ensuring patient satisfaction.”

The TransUnion study found more than half (57.9 percent) of those polled reported rising health insurance rates have already strained their budgets,and 65 percent are worried about their out-of-pocket costs for co-pays and deductibles under the proposed rates.

Additionally, 70 percent of respondents said they would appreciate price transparency, providing estimated costs prior to a procedure to help better anticipate costs and allowing them to budget for payments. Fifty-seven percent said they would be more willing to return to a healthcare provider for future services if they were provided with billing estimates at the point of service.

“Payment estimations can help patients budget, anticipate costs, and ultimately pay their bills on time or in full,” said McCarthy. “We believe patient payment estimation will be increasingly important this year and beyond as patients’ healthcare costs continue to rise.”