WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alegeus, the market leader in consumer directed healthcare (CDH) solutions, today unveiled its 2016 Healthcare Consumerism Index – an annual report that measures the degree of engagement and ‘consumerism’ exhibited during healthcare spending and saving decisions. Based on a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers, the 2016 index evaluated two specific aspects of healthcare consumerism – 1) the degree of cost/value orientation exhibited during healthcare “purchases” and 2) the degree of savings focus/discipline to plan for healthcare cost responsibilities.
Consumers are increasingly responsible for the cost of their healthcare – as evidenced by rising deductibles, growing out-of-pocket costs and accelerating adoption of consumer directed health plans and accounts. However, it’s evident that consumers may not be fully prepared to manage these new financial responsibilities. This index seeks to measure the industry’s progress in empowering consumers to take greater ownership of their healthcare finances.
For each category of consumerism – spending and saving – survey responses were tabulated into a single rating score on a 0-100 point scale. The bigger the number, the greater the degree of consumerism exhibited.
Healthcare spending = 54.44 (out of 100)
Consumers were asked to assess their attitudes and behavior for a wide set of spending decisions – including both healthcare and non-healthcare purchases. The same set of questions were asked for each type of purchase decision to allow easy comparison. This year’s spending index of 54.4 represents modest improvement over last year’s score of 48.3 – however, there is still a long way to go before true consumerism is realized. The results paint a very telling picture – while healthcare consumers have made some progress in the past 12 months, they are still much more engaged and thoughtful about buying a TV (scoring a 78.9) than they are about making decisions concerning their own healthcare.
Despite the fact that 76 percent of consumers now say they are very focused on getting the best value for their healthcare dollars, more than half of those consumers still don’t understand their cost responsibility for a given service until they receive the bill after the fact. There was some improvement in pre-purchase behavior, however, with a 20 percent increase in consumers that report doing research and comparing alternatives before a major service or procedure.
Healthcare saving = 21.88 (out of 100)
Similarly, consumers were then asked to consider their attitudes and behaviors regarding saving for various costs, such as retirement, their kid’s college education and an emergency fund. Disciplined saving for short- and long-term healthcare costs represents a paradigm shift for most consumers, and the research findings affirm that the majority of consumers are under-funding their healthcare savings.
Consumers are twice as focused on saving for retirement as they are on saving for healthcare. Only 34 percent of consumers say they understand how much they will need to save to pay for healthcare costs this year. Even fewer understand their long term healthcare cost obligations. Only 23 percent of consumers say that they are saving aggressively for healthcare costs and less than a third say they are confident that they have maximized tax benefits for their healthcare savings.
“It’s clear that consumers will need significant education, tools and support as they assume more financial responsibility for healthcare costs. Although our index demonstrates that healthcare consumers are making some progress, they still have a long way to go,” said Steve Auerbach, CEO, Alegeus. “We are committed to providing our clients with innovative capabilities and support to help consumers make informed decisions to optimize their healthcare spending and maximize their healthcare savings – and become more savvy healthcare consumers as a result.”
With its market-leading consumer directed healthcare platform, Alegeus empowers consumers to better manage their healthcare finances including account-based benefits, such as HSAs, FSAs and HRAs. By engaging consumers during critical spending and saving “moments of truth” with tools and support designed to empower informed decision-making and more active involvement, Alegeus helps consumers maximize the value of their healthcare dollars.
For more information, click here to download the full report or visit www.alegeus.com/consumerism to register for an upcoming podcast and webinar series that discusses not only these research findings but also more insights on empowering the modern healthcare consumer.
Alegeus is the market leader in consumer directed healthcare solutions, offering the industry’s most comprehensive platform for the administration of healthcare benefit accounts (including FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, wellness incentive, dependent care, and commuter accounts), the industry’s most widely-used benefit debit card, and powerful engagement solutions to help consumers maximize savings and optimize spending for their healthcare. Over 300 clients – including health insurance plans, third party administrators and financial institutions – leverage Alegeus’ deep expertise and proven technology to administer benefit accounts for more than 29 million members and process more than $8.9 billion in consumer healthcare payments annually. As the healthcare and benefit markets continue to evolve, Alegeus delivers solutions that enable clients to evolve their service offerings, operate their businesses more efficiently, and focus on their customers. The company is headquartered in Waltham, MA with operations in Orlando, FL and Milwaukee, WI.