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Consumers grow allergic to health care costs

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Lower use of health care by consumers in recent years is unusual, since health care used to be known as a recession-proof industry. But a recent survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions suggests that not only are health care consumers price-conscious, they’ve become increasingly so in just the last two years.

Deloitte surveyed 4,000 Americans in April, asking mostly the same questions as in previous years' surveys. The results were released in July.

The consulting firm found that 20 percent of consumers have cut back on health care spending and 75 percent say the economic slowdown has had some impact on their willingness to spend on health care.

One in four patients had delayed care for an illness or injury and of those, half said they did so because the cost was too high. In previous years, only about 35 percent cited cost as a reason they delayed care.

About 18 percent of consumers have no designated primary care physician, with more than one-third of those saying they can’t afford one. In 2009, only one-fourth said a primary care doctor was unaffordable for them.

One out of five patients has now used a retail clinic, such as MinuteClinic, and the same proportion use natural, homeopathic or alternative therapies in addition to the traditional health system.

Roughly two in every five patients have asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand because of cost reasons. And the same proportion of patients has switched a brand-name prescription to a generic because of advice or a cost comparison given by a retail pharmacist.

Among health insurance customers, 82 percent now list the cost of premiums as their number one consideration when choosing a plan, up from 73 percent two years ago. The cost of a doctor’s visit is as important, being cited by 81 percent of customers.

And among consumers who switched insurance plans last year, 33 percent say they did so in order to pay less, up from 23 percent two years ago.

“Rising health care costs and the recent economic downturn are prompting consumers to scale back, skip care, and consider non-conventional options,” wrote Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, along with co-authors Sheryl Coughlin and Laura Eselius.

Also, interestingly, consumers in Deloitte’s survey overwhelmingly reject the main notion that was used by President Obama to argue for his health reform plan and is now the rallying cry of the accountable care movement among hospitals and doctors: namely, that it is possible to improve quality and reduce costs simultaneously in the current U.S. health system. Fifty-five percent of respondents disagree, with fewer than 10 percent agreeing.

“U.S. consumers recognize that the health care system is costly, confusing, and delivers suboptimal service and value,” Keckley concluded.

 

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

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  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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