Few consumers use healthcare price and quality data

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 - Quality_Measures

Fewer than 10 percent of people used price and quality comparison data when choosing doctors, hospitals or health insurance plans in the past 12 months, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking poll released on April 21.

The telephone survey was conducted from April 8 to April 14 and included a sample of 1,506 adults living in the U.S.

Of the respondents, 21 percent said they had seen information comparing quality among health insurance plans, 17 percent said they had seen information comparing quality among hospitals and 16 percent said they had seen information comparing quality among doctors. However, only 6 percent, 4 percent and 6 percent of respondents, respectively, used that information.

When asked if they had seen price comparison data, 27 percent said they had seen it for health insurance plans, 8 percent had seen it for hospitals and 9 percent had seen it for doctors. However, only 9 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent of respondents, respectively, used that information.

Further, 64 percent of respondents said it was difficult to find out how much medical treatments and procedures cost. Still, 68 percent said they were confident they could afford their medical costs and 55 percent said they were confident they could afford a major illness such as a heart attack, cancer or serious injury that required hospitalization.

When asked how they would pay for a $500 unexpected medical bill, 45 percent said they could pay the bill in full, 20 percent said they would use a credit card to pay for the bill and pay off the balance over time, 7 percent said they would need to borrow the money and 20 percent said they would not be able to afford the bill.