More Americans are turning to technology first to evaluate health
conditions, and a growing number are interested in using the internet to
access medical care, while opportunities remain to improve peoples’
understanding of basic health insurance terms and the connection between
lifestyle choices and disease, according to a new UnitedHealthcare study.
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(Courtesy of UnitedHealthcare)
These are some of the findings from the second annual UnitedHealthcare
Consumer Sentiment Survey, which examines Americans’ attitudes and
opinions about multiple areas of health care, including technology
trends, health literacy and customer service. The survey’s key
More Americans are turning to technology first to access health
information and care. A growing number (42 percent) said they
would be likely to use telemedicine in the future to access care, a 5
percentage point increase from 2016.
Most people underestimated the connection between lifestyle choices
and disease. Many respondents underestimated the connection
between modifiable lifestyle choice and chronic conditions, with just
23 percent of people correctly recognizing that 80 percent or more of
premature chronic conditions are linked to controllable decisions such
as smoking or poor diet.
Many people say they are prepared for open enrollment. Nearly
three-quarters (72 percent) of people said they are prepared for open
enrollment, while 22 percent said they are unprepared.
Understanding of basic insurance terms slightly improved. Just
9 percent of respondents successfully defined all four basic health
insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and
out-of-pocket maximum. That’s a slight improvement from 7 percent a
When it comes to customer service, people prefer live support. Most
people (84 percent) preferred speaking with a customer service
representative, up from 78 percent last year.
“This survey highlights why UnitedHealthcare continues to develop new
ways to simplify the health care experience and make it easier and more
convenient for people to access care,” said Rebecca Madsen, chief
consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare. “These survey findings will build
upon our experience creating innovative ways to engage with customers
and help them navigate the health care system.”
Technology Becomes More Popular Way to Research Health Care
The use of websites and mobile apps to research health care options is
increasing, with 28 percent of respondents saying online resources are
their first option when evaluating health symptoms or conditions. Among
millennials (18 to 36 year olds), internet/mobile apps were the first
option for 36 percent of respondents, compared to 20 percent for Baby
Boomers (53 to 71 year olds). Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents
said they turn first to a primary care physician or nurse to research
health conditions or symptoms, the only choice that ranked higher than
the internet/mobile apps.
Nearly one-third of respondents (32 percent) have used the internet or
mobile apps during the last year to compare the cost of medical
services. That’s more than double from 14 percent in 2012 (according to
another UnitedHealthcare study). Nearly half (44 percent) of millennials
this year said they have used online or mobile resources to comparison
shop for health care treatments or services. Among all comparison
shoppers, 80 percent described the process as “very helpful” or
Even so, many people underestimated the actual cost of specific health
services. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) estimated the total cost of a
knee replacement between $5,000 and $25,000 – lower than the national
average of $36,000, according to www.guroo.com.
Medicare Advantage and the Future of Medicare
Most Americans believe Medicare will evolve in the coming years, even
though there is a high level of satisfaction among some beneficiaries.
More than nine out of 10 respondents (92 percent) enrolled in Medicare
Advantage plans said they are satisfied with their benefits.
In regard to potential program changes, 79 percent of respondents said
the federal government should shift the program away from the
traditional fee-for-service system to a model that emphasizes preventive
care and rewards physicians for health outcomes, which is the focus of
Connection Between Lifestyle Choices and Health Conditions
Some Americans recognize the connection between lifestyle choices and
chronic health conditions.
Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of survey respondents correctly
recognized that 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions, such
as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, are caused by modifiable
lifestyle choices, such as risk factors like smoking or obesity, as
opposed to being caused by genetic factors. More than one-third (37
percent) thought between 50 and 79 percent of premature chronic
conditions were caused by lifestyle choices, while 35 percent said
genetics were to blame for more than half of these diseases.
A larger percentage of Americans recognized the link between oral and
overall health. Many respondents (82 percent) correctly recognized that
oral health can affect overall health, with 60 percent saying dental
health may have a “significant impact” on overall health.
Meanwhile, 71 percent of respondents correctly recognized there
is little to no connection between the cost and quality of medical
services, as some studies have shown little correspondence between
higher-priced health care providers and improved health outcomes.
For complete survey results, click here.
About the Survey
The UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey was conducted using ORC
International’s Telephone CARAVAN® omnibus among a landline and cell
phone probability sample of 1,006 U.S. adults age 18 and older. The
margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent
confidence level. Supplemental interviewing, also among probability
samples, was conducted over the period Aug. 10-27, 2017.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live
healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting
consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships
with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health
benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members,
retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,
and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals,
and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide.
UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:
UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more
information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com
or follow @UHC on Twitter.
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