Most Consumer Health Care Decisions Being Affected by Inflation


As inflation rises, consumers are beginning to lose confidence in their ability to cover health care expenses.

A survey from AccessOne found that the majority of consumers say that inflation is impacting their health care decisions. 71% said that inflation has affected health care purchasing decisions or their ability to pay medical bills.

More than 1,000 people were asked about their purchasing decisions and payment behavior, including for health care, in the coming year. The survey shows that consumers are losing confidence in their ability to pay for health care expenses. Almost 10% of people owe at least $250 in medical expenses according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, yet 43% of the AccessOne survey respondents say a bill of $249 is the maximum they could manage with confidence.

Additionally, about one in four say providers make it difficult for consumers to pay their medical bills. Convenience might be a factor, as nearly half say when text is offered as an option for payment, they pay their bills in six days or less.

Consumers are also looking for affordable, long-term payment plans, as 80% said the availability of such a plan would make a difference in whether they decide to seek care. Who provides the financing is not an issue, as 55% of consumers said they would be comfortable working with a financial company to come up with an affordable payment plan for their medical bills, but only 3% are already doing so.

These financial concerns are affecting patient care decisions. Almost half of adults said they will put off medical care or expenses to avoid the cost in 2023. Also, more than half of consumers won’t pay their bill immediately if they fear they cannot afford it. Nearly half of consumers (47%) would switch providers for affordable, long-term payment, and 12% have done so in the past.

“During a period of high inflation and volatile credit markets, a health system’s ability to offer flexible and inclusive payment options for consumers will be vital to patient retention and growth,” said Mark Spinner, CEO, AccessOne, in a statement. “Simplifying patient financial communications and offering multiple options for payment—including long-term payment for those with limited access to traditional credit—are key to supporting a health care provider’s financial stability.”

To see the full report, click here

This article originally appeared in Medical Economics.

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