One-third of consumers would switch doctors for the right price

Can loyalty to your doctor be bought?

Apparently, yes, according to new survey findings.

A consumer survey by HealthPocket, a website that compares and ranks health plans, found that 34 percent of respondents are motivated to reducing their health plan costs vs. keeping their doctor.

More than half of the 34 percent who would switch doctors would do so for the lowest savings amount presented by the survey, $500 to $1,000 annually. Eight percent said they would switch for $1,000 to $2,000, and 7.5 percent for $3,000 or more.

Roughly 40 percent of consumers say they wouldn't switch their doctor, while another 24 percent said they don't have a regular doctor.

“While some consumers feel strongly about keeping their current physician, many others are surprisingly open to moving around based on cost,” Steve Zaleznick, executive director for consumer strategy and development at HealthPocket, said in a statement.

Though survey after survey has found that consumers are dissatisfied in the country’s health care system, most are very satisfied with their personal physician.

For example, according to a survey last fall by The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization, roughly 80 percent of consumers who visited their family doctor or primary care physician at least once in the past year said they were “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the visits.

But HealthPocket researchers warn that changed stemming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will test consumers’ loyalty to their regular doctors.

Other than cost, one of the key factors in consumers’ selection process for health insurance will be whether their doctor participates in a plan’s network of providers. For insurers, cost pressures are moving them to limit the size of their provider networks in order to negotiate lower rates to health care providers in exchange for a larger volume of patients, researchers note.

“Regardless of what happens with the ACA in terms of health care premiums, consumers will need to investigate their options to find ways to save money and determine whether their current doctor will still be covered under the plan they want,” Zaleznick said.

The InfoPoll survey of 713 people was conducted between April 18 and April 21.

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