BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As healthcare costs continue to rise, the financial responsibility for care is increasingly shifting onto individuals and plan sponsors. Combine rising costs with overall confusion about healthcare, and many consumers find themselves facing difficult and highly consequential decisions during this year’s open enrollment period. In the Copatient 2016 Healthcare Financial Management Survey of more than 500 U.S. consumers, nearly half of all respondents reported being dissatisfied with their current health benefits, while 25 percent did not even know when their open-enrollment period begins. More than 55 percent reported spending over $1,000 in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in the last year. Additionally, 15 percent of those respondents spent more than $5,000 on out-of-pocket expenses during the last twelve months.
“The financial model for healthcare is in the midst of a significant shift, which will require consumers to continue to pay for more of their healthcare out-of-pocket,” said Thomas Torre, CEO of Copatient. “Our survey findings underscore just how important it is that consumers engage in healthcare decision-making and take control of their financial choices and obligations, moving forward. It is also incumbent upon employers to help their workforce navigate medical expenses and understand their health benefits and options.”
Managing healthcare finances and navigating the complexities of medical bills is proving to be an uphill battle for many consumers. In fact, 66 percent of respondents to Copatient’s survey reported having received a medical bill that they did not understand. Despite the fact that it is health providers who issue and collect on medical bills, less than one in three people surveyed reported that they would go to their health provider first with a question. The survey also revealed that health insurers bear the brunt of medical billing questions, with 42 percent of respondents reporting a payor (insurer) as their first stop for a question regarding a bill.
With consumers unsure of where they should direct questions, ongoing education and improved online tools will be increasingly important to ensure consumers’ financial well-being. Growing adoption of high deductible health plans and narrowing networks will raise the stakes even higher. During the last twelve months, 30 percent of respondents to Copatient’s survey said they had been referred to a health provider that was out of their network and not covered by insurance. With different physicians falling under different networks – even within the same hospital – it can be difficult to ensure your health plan will cover the cost of care.
With the financial consequences mounting, 20 percent of Copatient’s survey respondents report being unsure about what kind of health insurance plan they currently have. However, when asked what the top consideration was when picking a health plan, total cost was cited most often. In fact, more respondents reported cost to be of higher importance than quality of care. While cost is a top consideration when choosing a plan, nearly 50 percent of respondents report that they do not research the cost of an individual medical procedure before receiving treatment.
Despite growing trepidation around rising costs, 55 percent feel they either have no control or that their employers have more control over their health plan options, and of those respondents, 37 percent reported having “no control.” This lack of direction and control are compounded by a lack of education, understanding and resources. When considering these findings, it’s not surprising that 78 percent of respondents said that if their employer offered a benefit to help manage medical bills and control healthcare costs, they would utilize it.
“These survey findings highlight the growing need to empower consumers around healthcare finance management. The confusion is evident, as is the desire for help,” said Torre. “At Copatient, we are working closely with consumers and employers to give people the tools they need to take control over their medical costs and make paying for healthcare easy.”
Copatient surveyed 515 consumers, via a third-party provider, who reported having been surprised by their healthcare costs in the last 12 months. This qualifier constituted nearly half (45 percent) of the entire population, or 515 out of 1,138. Among the 515 surveyed, 53% were female.
Copatient provides a unique blend of service offerings for health plans, employers, brokers, TPAs and individual consumers, all designed to contain the cost of medical expenses. The leading resource of solutions to educate and help people better manage and reduce their healthcare expenses, Copatient helps resolve medical billing errors and ensures that provider payments are appropriate for the services provided. By combining insights from crowd-sourced data and a proprietary technology platform with the knowledge of expert advocates, Copatient offers a comprehensive bill analysis and cost negotiation, guiding and educating individuals at every step along the way. Copatient believes paying for healthcare should be easy. Founded in 2012, Copatient is headquartered in Boston. For more information, visit www.copatient.com or follow Copatient on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.