Affordability top driver of consumer healthcare decisions

Affordability is the top driver of the majority of U.S. consumers' (72 percent) healthcare decisions among those who plan to join insurance exchanges. Less than one-third (30 percent), however, are willing to change doctors or healthcare settings to reduce costs, according to a new survey of 3,209 people by Accenture.

As the post-reform marketplace expands to 51 million individually insured consumers, Accenture found that health insurers will need to further differentiate their services and engage new customers which could prove quite challenging considering consumer preferences for lower healthcare costs with little tradeoffs.

According to the survey, while healthcare consumers seek low out-of-pocket healthcare costs, fewer than 20 percent of those surveyed understand the cost of their care in advance or feel they should track and budget healthcare expenses. Among other notable findings:

  • Less than half of consumers are willing to change to generic prescriptions (43 percent); use a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor for routine visits (41 percent) or change their primary care doctor (23 percent).
  • Although 81 percent of subsidy-eligible healthcare consumers report they want guidance to improve their health, 40 percent of these same consumers don’t identify going to the doctor for regular checkups as a priority.
  • Only one out of the four consumers surveyed trust insurers to provide guidance on improving their health.