Cost keeping the doctor away

Forget all the other debate about health care. Consumers say they care most about how much it costs them. 

More than half of respondents see the high costs associated with medical care and health coverage as the most pressing health care problem, according to a survey of 800 people by New York-based Hill & Knowlton Strategies. When it comes to their own care, it’s also the issue that they worry about the most.

Even more, health care costs are keeping patients away from the doctor with about one in three saying it has made them put off medical treatment and skip or postpone a regular doctor’s visit.

“What the public needs and what it ultimately values—and will pay for—are not always the same thing,” said Susan Thiele, U.S. Healthcare Practice Director at H+K Strategies. “In this environment, it’s critical to understand shifting public opinion so that new advances are developed and positioned in a way that’s meaningful to consumers. The health care industry strives for innovation, but innovation alone does not ensure success.”

Medical costs were the most important factor in making a health care decision, outweighing advice from their physician as well as knowledge of the potential benefits versus the risks associated with a treatment/ service.

In the survey, 45 percent of people said they worried “a lot” about paying medical bills in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident, and 36 percent said they are very concerned with paying for health-insurance coverage. Cost was more worrisome than receiving the best medical care and having access to the latest, most innovative medical treatment.


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