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Consumer Engagement Is The New Healthcare Reality

Every so often it seems another round of surveys is released demonstrating the strong, continual growth of the consumer-directed health care (CDHC) market and the accompanying behavioral shift in how Americans approach buying health care. This month has already seen the release of two significant surveys by reputable health and benefits organizations.

This year’s EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS), the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s survey to track the evolution of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and medical savings accounts, including health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), shows a significant behavioral difference in how CDHP enrollees purchase health care.

EBRI, now in its 34th year, has long been considered an invaluable source of unbiased, nonpartisan employee benefits information. This is the eighth year of the Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey.

Secondly, Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the health care industry, has released a survey delving into the growing trend in consumerism.

Their Consumerization of Health Care demonstrates that a vast majority of Americans are ready to take a proactive role in their health care.

Data from the survey suggests that Americans feel a sense of urgency in taking control of their own health care. Eighty-six percent report that they feel they need to take a more proactive role in their health care to ensure a better quality of care. And 80 percent feel that the consumerization of health care generally is a positive trend for our country.

The Wolters Kluwer Health survey was conducted by IPSOS among 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older. Survey questions focused on exploring whether consumers want more control over their own health care and whether they feel prepared to take on more responsibility.

What both these studies show is a larger shift in the way Americans now view purchasing health care. The Wolters Kluwer study finds Americans desiring a more transparent patient experience, wherein they are empowered and have options to shop for health care. And this mirrors a growing industry trend, led by groups like Castlight Health, who promote and offer solutions for cost transparecy in health care.

The EBRI study, which contrasts characteristics of those enrolled in a CDHP, HDHP and traditional plans, concludes that CDHP enrollees are leading the shift toward consumerism. CDHP enrollees were more likely than those in a traditional plan to exhibit a number of cost-conscious behaviors. They already understand that they are empowered consumers and are saving themselves — and their employers — a significant sum of money. It’s time for the rest to catch up.

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