News Briefs Archive

The Consumer Challenge Linked to Nearly $5 Billion in Health-Care Costs

Sept. 19, 2018

Your patients may need more help from your office to navigate the health-care system, including their vision benefits.

“Half of U.S. consumers are unable to navigate the complexity of the health-care system on their own, according to a new report by Accenture, and this low level of health system “literacy” costs the industry an estimated $4.8 billion annually in administrative expenses alone,” Jeff Lagasse writes in Healthcare Finance.

The healthcare system is so complex, the report found, that 52 percent of consumers don’t understand how to navigate it appropriately. They struggle to make informed decisions about everything from the health plan types they choose and the premiums they pay to the doctors they see and the procedures they have done.

Overall, just one in six consumers, about 16 percent, are considered to be experts in navigating the system. One-third have no experience or proficiency with it whatsoever.

On top of that, 26 percent of consumers have both a low understanding of the system and the highest healthcare need, facing sizeable medical costs and serious conditions such as cancer, congestive heart failure or renal failure, which require additional interactions.

The report mentions that health-system literacy is not about education level. Roughly half, 48 percent, of those who have low literacy are college-educated, and 97 percent have at least a high school diploma.

If all consumers had a high understanding of how to navigate the healthcare system, insurers could save $3.41 billion a year in administrative costs, according to the report. These savings would be even greater if the analysis accounted for the impact of low health-care system literacy on medical costs.

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