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As Consumers Feel Financial Burden of Increasing Health Care Costs, Health Plans Have Opportunity to Address Unmet Consumer Needs and Become Trusted Advisors
Date:6/19/2008

SAN FRANCISCO, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to a recent survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a part of Deloitte LLP, only 7 percent of Americans are financially prepared for their future health care needs. At the same time, only 10 percent of consumers are completely satisfied with their health plans. As non-traditional players enter the health care arena and begin to respond to consumers' demand for increased access to online tools, information and services, health plans must act quickly to improve relationships with consumers and address their unmet needs to strengthen their role as trusted advisors.

"Health care costs have now approached one-fifth of the average household's spending, outpacing housing, food, clothing and transportation," said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "As consumers assume more personal responsibility for covering their health care costs, and gain increased awareness of treatment options, quality and price differences, they will want to take even greater control of their health care decisions."

The 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers, a representative survey of more than 3,000 Americans, was conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The survey suggests that there are distinct consumer segments with diverse needs and preferences. Across these segments, there are unmet needs that present opportunities for health plans to fill the void. To capitalize on this opportunity, however, health plans need to consider new strategies, capabilities and investments.

"Health plans have a tremendous opportunity to become the trusted source for personalized, integrated information about health conditions, treatment options, quality, and price," said Diane Davies, managing principal for Deloitte Consulting LLP's Health Plans practice. "They should consider promoting transparency as a core feature of benefit plans and build the necessary infrastructure to provide the information consumers need in a timely, easy-to-use and personalized format. Health plans that recognize and respond to consumers' evolving preferences, unmet needs and overall desires for greater personalization and customization in their benefit plans could gain a distinct competitive advantage and achieve profitable growth in an emerging retail market."

The survey found that many consumers are seeking more personalized options and are demanding greater choices for care. The majority of consumers (78 percent) would prefer to customize their insurance by selecting the benefits and features they value, rather than select their plans from a few pre-packaged options. If given a choice, 62 percent of consumers said the ability to customize and choose benefits would have a strong influence on their choice of a health plan.

Additional representative findings from the Deloitte Survey found that:

-- Nearly three out of four consumers (73 percent) are interested in

accessing information about quality or price from their health plan.

-- Consumer interest in services such as online access to medical records

and test results (78 percent), email communication with doctors (76

percent), and online scheduling (72 percent) is very high.

-- Consumers are also interested in wellness programs (65 percent), tools

that provide personalized recommendations for improving health (61

percent), nurse call lines (65 percent) and disease management programs

that can help them manage their health condition (56 percent).

-- Eighty-eight percent are interested in using in-home self-monitoring

devices that could reduce doctor visits.

-- Forty-six percent are interested in using a software program or web site

to create a personal health record.

-- Twenty percent have used an alternative approach to treatment (40

percent might in the future).

-- While 68 percent prefer to choose doctors with an orientation toward

traditional or conventional medicine, 32 percent prefer to choose

doctors with an orientation toward holistic or alternative treatments (7

percent strongly prefer).

-- If given a choice, 47 percent said access to alternative health care

providers would have a strong influence on their choice of a health

plan.

-- Sixteen percent have used a retail clinic (34 percent say they might in

the future).

-- Forty-four percent say they would be comfortable with the accuracy,

safety and quality of care offered in a retail clinic staffed by a nurse

practitioner.

-- Thirty-nine percent say they would consider having an elective procedure

in a foreign country if they could save 50 percent or more and be

assured the quality was equal to or better than in the United States.

Related Content

Survey: http://www.deloitte.com/us/healthcareconsumersurvey

Health Plans Implications Report: http://www.deloitte.com/us/healthcareconsumersurvey/healthplan

Media Resource Center: http://www.deloitte.com/us/consumerism/media

Fact Sheet Library: http://www.deloitte.com/us/consumerism/library

Perspective: http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0,1002,sid%253D127087%2526cid%253D19273 9,00.html

Connected Care Report: http://www.deloitte.com/us/ConnectedCareAtHome

About Deloitte

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and its subsidies. Please see http://www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

About the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is a part of Deloitte LLP. For more on the Center and its work, see http://www.deloitte.com/centerforhealthsolutions


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SOURCE Deloitte
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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