8 Keys to Increasing Cost & Quality Consciousness in Consumers

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November 8th, 2012

Wise ConsumerDriving consumer engagement with cost and quality information to encourage more affordable medical care decisions requires a proactive effort on the part of healthcare payers.

Providing consumers with tools and information that assist in making prudent decisions will also empower consumers in attaining healthcare services and may even boost overall satisfaction with their benefits and outcomes.  The following best practices aim to stimulate consumer consciousness of cost and quality when making decisions about their healthcare.

8 Practices to Increase Cost & Quality Consciousness:

  1. Ensure Consumers have a Vested Interest

    Consumers need an incentive to investigate and ultimately choose less expensive healthcare options. Typically, the majority of consumers will not be concerned with the prices charged to their insurance providers. High deductible, consumer directed and other health plan designs may provide enough economic incentive to explore more affordable care options.

  2. Provide Price and Quality Information

    Providing information on the costs of healthcare is not enough for consumers to make an informed decision. Both price and quality information needs to be presented to allow consumers to see that higher price does not necessarily mean better quality care.

  3. Provide Information on Out-of-Pocket Costs & Show Benefit Application

    Use tools that will show what consumer’s benefits will cover and calculates their out-of-pocket costs. Information on deductible amounts and how their benefits apply to specific services allow consumers to make more informed decisions.

  4. Show Total Costs and Components

    A single medical service or treatment can generate multiple bills (physician bill, facility bill, diagnostic testing, etc.). Costs for each of these components can vary based on where the services were performed as well as geographic location. It is imperative to inform consumers of the total cost associated with a particular service as well as information on price variance based where the services where performed.

  5. Highlight Ways to Save Money

    Information that can directly impact consumer costs and choice like care settings, treatment options, effectiveness statistics on procedures and what procedures are not covered is critical to empowering and informing consumers.

  6. Educate Consumers on Medical Treatment Detail

    Educating consumers on the details of procedures and treatments they need helps to improve satisfaction with their outcomes and benefits. Informed consumers choose treatment plans wisely and become active participants in their healthcare.

  7. Engage Consumers to Manage Conditions and Control Costs

    Keeping patients aware of care guidelines for chronic diseases and conditions and the chance for complications if these guidelines are not followed encourages careful decision making by consumers.

  8. Promote Awareness of Decision Support Tools

    Raise awareness of informative decision making tools and promote tool utilization by demonstrating their cost savings potential as well as improved health outcomes.  Most tools are unused because consumers simply are not aware of them.