Healthcare Consumer Confidence Falls to Historic Low, According to Thomson Reuters Sentiment Index

Ann Arbor, MI  May 11, 2011 - Americans' confidence in their ability to access and pay for healthcare dropped to a historic low in April, according to a consumer sentiment index produced by Thomson Reuters.

Consumers reported their greatest difficulty paying for healthcare services since the sentiment index was launched in December 2009. More respondents reported a reduction in or loss of insurance coverage in the latest index survey, resulting in more canceled or delayed medical treatments and more difficulty filling prescriptions.

Overall, the Thomson Reuters Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index dropped from 98 in January to 95 in April, a statistically significant decrease.

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

The index, which is based on the Thomson Reuters PULSE(TM) Healthcare Survey, has two parts:

  • A retrospective component gauges respondents' experiences during the past three months. It tracks whether they postponed, delayed or cancelled healthcare services and whether they had difficulty paying for medical care or health insurance. In April, retrospective consumer sentiment dipped to 93 on the index scale, down three points from 96 in March. 

  • A prospective component gauges respondents' expectations for the next three months.  In April, prospective consumer sentiment stayed even at 96, which it had been the month prior. 

"Sentiment decreased when consumers were asked about their experiences in the past three months, but it was stable when they were asked what they expect in the next three months. This is an indication that many consumers expect their financial situations to improve in the near term," said Pickens.

The Thomson Reuters Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index is updated monthly. A full report on the April results is available here:

The Thomson Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey collects information about healthcare behaviors, attitudes and utilization from more than 100,000 U.S. households annually. It is representative of all U.S. adults and households. The Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index is based on responses from a survey subset of 3,000 respondents each month. Its baseline measurement of 100 was set in December 2009.

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