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Deloitte’s Latest Consumer Survey

By October 20, 2011Commentary

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has conducted a survey of consumers in several countries on health issues for four years.  This year’s survey evaluates current attitudes and longitudinal trends.   (Deloitte Survey)    The countries surveyed are the United States, Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, Portugal and Switzerland.  Six areas were questioned: wellness and healthy living, information resources, traditional health services, alternative health services, health insurance and health policy.  Looking at the US survey responses, the results are fairly stable from past years.  A large majority, 76% of Americans feel they don’t understand how the health system works, but that doesn’t stop them from having strong opinions about it, including that it is not as good as the systems in other countries.  Bad news for reform lovers–people don’t perceive that the system is getting any better.

An amazing one-half of respondents think that 50% or more of health care spending is wasted (but of course, not what is spend on them).  The perceived causes of this wasted spending are failure of individuals to take responsibility for their health, too much paperwork, defensive medicine and useless end-of-life care.  Over 90% report out-of-pocket spending on health care, but only 38% felt they got good value for spending on health insurance, while 61% felt they did for spending on physicians.  Most people, 75%, say the economic slowdown has made them more cautious about health related spending.  Over 60% say health spending affects their ability to spend on other items.  A significant minority have skipped or delayed care and only about 20% think they are financially prepared for future health needs.  Fourteen per cent provide constant care for a relative.   It is clear that health care is very much on the minds of and a burden to many Americans.

Most consumers think they are in good health and a growing minority, now up to 25%, say they participate in some wellness program.  Over 90% of Americans have used the internet to get health information.  The most trusted source is physicians and hospitals.  About 85% visited a physician in the last year and over 80% have a primary care doctor.  One in five has used a retail health clinic.  When patients switch doctors, and about 15% did, it is because of poor service or perceived bad care quality.  About 40% would travel for medical care.  Eighteen percent use alternative therapies (maybe some of that wasted health spending).  While people are generally happy with their insurance and feel adequately covered, they do not believe they have much choice in their plan.  Cost and choice of providers are key factors if people do have insurance options.

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