Americans are more aware of their own health care spending than in the past,but they are still not saving enough in anticipation of health carecosts, a new study suggests.

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The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults by Alegeus, aconsumer-directed health care company based in Waltham,Massachusetts, found a modest increase in the average American’sawareness of health costs based ontheir responses to questions about whether they take cost intoaccount when choosing health care services and whether they comparecompeting options.

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The average score in 2016 was 54.4 out of 100, up from 48.4 lastyear.

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As employers are increasingly shifting the cost of health careonto employees in the form of high-deductible insurance policiesand consumer-driven policies, more peopleare faced with the cost of care and are forced to try to findlower-cost providers and medication, so a steady increase inawareness is expected.

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Even though three-quarters of respondents said they were veryfocused on trying to reduce health costs, many simply don’t knowenough about the health care system to do it effectively.

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“(M)ore than half of those consumers still don’t understandtheir cost responsibility for a given service until they receivethe bill after the fact,” the report stated.

Not a priority

Consumers still do not evaluate health care spending with askeen an eye towards savings as they do other expenses, such asbuying a TV, a car, a cellphone or a vacation, the report found.The average score for all four of those purchases was above70.

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When it comes to saving for medical costs, however, Americans havea lot more work to do. The average score is 21.8, far lower thanthe level of savings discipline exhibited towards other majorcosts, such as retirement (41.5), college (29.8) or generalemergency expenses (41.6).

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“It’s clear that consumers will need significant education,tools and support as they assume more financial responsibility forhealth care costs,” said Alegeus CEO Steve Auerbach.

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“Although our index demonstrates that health care consumers aremaking some progress, they still have a long way to go.”

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