Better informed consumers spend less on healthcare

If consumers knew the prices beforehand and had a range of options to choose from, they could begin to cut national healthcare spending by making better decisions, according to findings from surveys the society of actuaries conducted.

Many surveyed agreed that

  • more transparency and less ambiguity surrounding the price of healthcare would help.
  • Eighty-six percent of healthcare actuaries surveyed recommend making prices for treatments available and more visible to patients.

In other findings, the society’s survey of 600 actuaries found:

  • 90 percent think that reducing the number and severity of medical errors will help reduce costs.
  • 88 percent believe that fighting fraud and abuse within the system can be at least somewhat effective at lowering costs.
  • 8 percent recommend making quality of provider care more available to patients.

Among consumers surveyed, 37 percent feel they could better control their own healthcare costs if healthcare providers–or their insurance company–told them about the costs of medical services and outcome quality.

Thirty percent believe they could better control their healthcare costs if, before beginning a medical procedure, the physician told them about the cost of the procedure, the number of times he had performed the procedure, and results.

However, not everyone is so optimistic about their ability to control healthcare expenses. Nearly four in 10 consumers doubt they can do much to rein in individual healthcare spending.

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