Consumers worried about healthcare access, costs

Hospitals should take heed that consumers' confidence in their ability to access and pay for healthcare services dropped to a historic low last month, according to the Thomson Reuters Sentiment Index.

Overall, the Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index "significantly" dropped from 98 in January to 95 in April.

One cause was that more Americans reported a reduction in or loss of health insurance in the last three months, which led to all-time highs in canceled or delayed medical treatments and increased difficulty filling prescriptions.

"This notable decrease in confidence should raise red flags for doctors, hospitals, and public health officials," said Gary Pickens, chief research officer at the Thomson Reuters Center for Healthcare Analytics.

Thus, it's important that hospitals help boost the morale of healthcare consumers. Such apprehension toward accessing and paying for care could negatively impact healthcare spending decisions, ultimately hurting their bottom lines.

"If the loss of health insurance becomes a longer-term trend, it will be critical to monitor how access to healthcare is affected," added Pickens.

For more:
- read the Thomson Reuters announcement
- check out the Index report (.pdf)