More people in the United States have health care coverage than ever before, but an April 2018 Consumers for Quality Care (CQC)-Ipsos survey found that Americans fear health care costs even more than they worry about costs associated with retirement, college, housing or child care.
This October, CQC commissioned the CQC Health Care Experience Study to better understand the broader health care themes that impact consumers and to delve more deeply into the issues behind these cost concerns. We found that consumers are deeply frustrated by unpredictable costs and the lack of transparency in health care.
Consumers’ number one pain point is the unexpected nature of bills and fees, followed closely by insurance costs and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and routine medical visits.
Americans want and need greater upfront transparency about what health plans do and do not cover and the costs they will incur. The campaign will highlight areas at the emergency department, elsewhere in the hospital and at the pharmacy counter where the health care industry can and should provide increased clarity, more comprehensive care and cost savings to health care consumers. Our efforts will shine a light on issues including:
- Emergency Department Policies: Some insurers are instituting policies that would force policyholders to pay for an emergency room visit if the insurer later deems it a non-emergency, meaning patients will likely delay or go without emergency care rather than risk being unexpectedly required to pay ED costs out-of-pocket.
- Hospital Pricing: Hospital care is the largest single component of total personal health care spending in the U.S. Surprise bills, balance billing, billing errors and vast swings in prices for similar tests and procedures underscore the need for transparency in hospital pricing.
- Pharmacy Counter Issues: Practices like restricting pharmacists from informing customers that a lower price might be available by not using insurance and new policies in which insurers no longer allow drug copay coupons to count towards patients’ deductibles mean consumers continue to be caught in the middle of industry disputes about price and transparency.