Friday, March 9, 2012

Can Transparency Improve Consumer Value?

A new study from Health Affairs discovered that consumers may be more likely to purchase a health plan that cost them more money.

Wait, what?

The study’s results imply that consumers shop for healthcare in the same mindset they use for everyday purchases: the more expensive something is, the more value it has. Unfortunately for those consumers, that isn’t necessarily the case. In healthcare, it seems, value and cost are rarely the same thing.

The Health Affairs survey was designed to test the theory that consumers would make better choices about healthcare, if they were provided with more helpful information. 1,421 employees were presented with varying formats of information about available health plans. In a “substantial minority” of responses, employees chose more expensive plans, stating that they believed the higher cost meant a higher quality plan.

Health care consumers want to visit high-quality doctors and hospitals, and many public report cards are available to help them compare providers. However, few report cards include information on cost, and there has been little scientific evidence to guide the presentation of that information to help consumers choose high value providers.

The conclusion Health Affairs came to, was that reporting the quality of a health plan is as important as reporting its cost. When those same employees were presented with information reporting on both aspects, they almost always tended to choose higher-value plans, rather than more expensive ones. This push toward transparency may be the key to helping consumers understand healthcare. Do you think it’s a step in the right direction, or does more need to be done?


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

No comments:

Post a Comment