Mehrotra, Dean, Sinaiko, and Sood conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,996 nonelderly US adults who had received medical care in the previous 12 months to assess how frequently patients are price shopping for care and the barriers they face in doing so. Only 13 percent of respondents who had some out-of-pocket spending in their last health care encounter had sought information about their expected spending before receiving care, and just 3 percent had compared costs across providers before receiving care. The low rates of price shopping do not appear to be driven by opposition to the idea: The majority of respondents believed that price shopping for care is important and did not believe that higher-cost providers were of higher quality. Common barriers to shopping included difficulty obtaining price information and a desire not to disrupt existing provider relationships.
The full study is available at Health Affairs. A press release is available here.
Citation: Mehrotra, A., Dean, K. M., Sinaiko, A. D., & Sood, N. (2017). Americans Support Price Shopping for Health Care, But Few Actually Seek Out Price Information. Health Affairs.