Survey: Consumers send mixed signals on shared decision-making

A large majority--90 percent--of consumers wants to take charge of their medical decisions, but only about 50 percent actually talk about healthcare costs, according to a new survey of almost 3,000 adults from Altarum Institute.

"This survey reminds us that many consumers desire an active role in health decisions, but few know how to participate, take action, ask questions or seek information," Wendy Lynch, study author and director of Altarum's Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care, said Tuesday in a statement. "Tailoring the right support to the right person will be critical for patient-centered care."

These findings bode well for insurers as the market becomes more consumer-focused, giving members a more central role in making choices about both insurance and medical care.

Insurers can enable their consumers to feel more empowered by providing them with certain tools, resources and incentives to take charge of their health, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

When it comes to costs, more than 80 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable talking with doctors about healthcare costs. However, only about 50 percent of consumers have actually asked their doctors about cost. The survey authors suggested this gap may stem from a lack of confidence since only about 33 percent of consumers think they can shop for better prices.

And although more than 75 percent of consumers said they were strongly committed to their current primary care doctor, 50 percent said they wouldn't pay extra premiums to keep seeing that doctor. That finding could indicate consumers are willing to sign up for plans with narrow networks even if their current doctors aren't covered.

To learn more:
- here's the statement and survey (.pdf)