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Jun 2016

Most Consumers Don’t Price Shop for Healthcare Services

It is summer. You have planned that dream vacation. Like many money-savvy people, you wisely employed either a travel agent or used cost-saving websites/apps such as,, and to find the best hotel rates. When it comes to a vacation, we all are looking for the best quality at the lowest price.

But when it comes to scheduling and planning our medical surgery, do we tackle the booking with the same vigor as we do with our travel plans? According to a new survey, the answer is a resounding “No.”

The not-so-surprising results came from a survey conducted by Dallas-based HealthMine, who polled 750 consumers enrolled in wellness programs about their habits regarding price shopping for medical services or pharmaceutical drugs.

Here are the five (5) things to know about the HealthMine survey results:

  1. Of the 750 healthcare consumers in the survey, 70 percent reported not comparing prices before shopping for medical services or pharmaceutical drugs. That is a surprising statistic considering the sticker shock for a hospital stay is far greater than booking that hotel room by bypassing the chain hotel reservation line for a hotel discount website/app.
  1. Despite growing industry and consumer awareness that medical procedure costs vary widely by location and provider, only 29 percent of health plan sponsors include a price comparison tool. This is a more amazing statistic than patients not price shopping. More than 71 percent of health plans do not provide their members price shopping tools to assist in the selection process.
  1. Of the study’s 750 participants, 42 percent said having such a tool in their wellness program was “very important.” Another 48 percent said a price comparison tool would be nice to have.
  1. Out of the 70 percent who don’t price shop, 41 percent said, “Cost is covered by my health plan, so it doesn’t matter” as the reason why they did not. This falls back on item no. 2 on this list. It is mystifying when health plans do not invest more in educating their subscribers/members in shopping around for best services at the most competitive prices.
  1. Of those who do price shop, 45 percent do so by calling physicians in their health plan, while 35 percent rely on a price comparison tool.

As consolidation progresses on both sides of the healthcare aisle, expect third-party vendors to take the lead with website/app tools that will allow more price comparison in the near future. Perhaps one day booking your surgery will be more in line with how a person books a hotel stay today.

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