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Survey on Consumers and Health Care

By February 15, 2016Commentary

Finn Partners, a public relations firm, has released a survey of 1000 consumers on how they interact with the health system.   (Finn Survey)   Two-thirds of consumers said they see their primary care physician only once or twice a year, with 46% saying it is just once a year.  As other surveys have found, most consumers view their physician as the most trusted source of health information.  But patients change primary care doctors more frequently than I would have believed, as only half the respondents with health insurance have used the same primary care doctor for more than three years.  Some of this switching may be due to changing health insurance plans, which often have different networks, and since half the respondents said they had changed health plans in the last three years.  Only about half of people actually read their health insurance plan, with the most likely to do so being the subsegment that has had the same plan for a long time.  60% of consumers said they would like their plan to be active on social media, providing plan information and wellness help.  In regard to drug costs, a hot topic now, half the respondents were unaware that drug manufacturers often offer copay coupons; 43% said their pharmacist will frequently recommend alternative medications to their doctors’ initial prescription and half of those said they usually accept that recommendation, generally because of cost concerns.  Despite rampant advertising, only 8% of patients go to a medication’s web site if they have questions or want information about the drug.  And 55% said that using celebrities to promote a drug doesn’t affect their decisions.  In general, the results suggest a somewhat fragmented health system for many consumers and the usual difficulty in finding and absorbing information.

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