New Poll Shows Price is a Factor in Treatment and Patients Will Shop Around

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The percentage of consumers who shop around for healthcare prices is up from 2010 levels, according to a poll from NPR-Thomson Reuters, and patients are seeking information almost equally from doctors and insurers. Pollsters found a five percent increase in the percentage of pre-treatment patient-shoppers from 2010 levels (16 percent versus 11 percent). Patients today are contacting insurers directly more often than they did in 2010 (49 percent in 2012 versus 26 percent), and almost as much as they call their doctors (50 percent, down from 60 percent in 2010). The “biggest revelation” said Thomson Reuters health CMO Ray Rabius, was that more than half of all respondents said price information influenced their choice of provider. Yet Richard Evans, an analyst quoted in a write-up of the report, argued that even with “perfect price transparency…most health care demand is price inelastic” because “the majority of health care spending comes from a minority of persons…and each of these persons has very large spending amounts in excess of their deductibles.”