U.S. Consumers Want Major Changes in Health Care Design, Delivery

American consumers want more from their healthcare system than they're currently getting, including greater online connection to health care providers and medical records, customized insurance coverage and wider access to emerging innovations such as retail clinics, according to a survey from Deloitte.

At the same time, they express anxiety about future health care costs. Only 7 percent say they're adequately prepared financially, and increasingly search for alternative medicines and services that can save them money and offer convenience. But many also say they are willing to pay extra for wellness programs, and to support or consider tax increases to cover the uninsured.

The "2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers," a representative poll of more than 3,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 75, was conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. It was directed by Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, and William Copeland Jr., national managing director of the Life Sciences and Health Care practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP.

"More than anything, the findings convince us that Americans no longer see themselves only as patients, but as consumers who want to take greater control of their health care," Keckley said. "Consumers will redefine our health care market, but how they do it is the most important strategic question the health care industry must answer."

Among the survey's key findings:

  • 93 percent say they are not well prepared for future health care costs.
  • 79 percent of consumers believe health care will be an important issue in the 2008 election; 46 percent described it as one of the top three issues affecting their vote.
  • 34 percent say they would use a retail clinic; 16 percent already have.
  • 60 percent want physicians to provide online access to medical records and test results, and online appointment scheduling; one in four say they would pay more for the service.
  • One in three consumers say they want more holistic/alternative therapies in their treatment program.
  • Three of four consumers want expanded use of in-home monitoring devices, and online tools that would reduce need for visits and allow individuals to be more active in their care.
  • 84 percent prefer generic drugs to name brands.
  • 29 percent support a tax increase to help cover the uninsured; another 34 percent say they would consider a tax hike.
  • 52 percent of consumers say they understand their insurance coverage; only 8 percent understand their policies completely.

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