People trust health insurance companies to hold their health spending information more than they trust banks, according to a survey from Medavante.

In Cure the Confusion: The Consumer Experience of Online Healthcare, Medavante found that consumers perceived that health plans have less bias than financial institutions. Yet, 80 million Americans bank online.

Still, trust in online banking is eroding. Earlier this month, Bankrate’s survey asserted that Americans are very concerned about identity theft. This is beginning to impact their online behavior with banks.

This is a new finding. Other data sources assert that consumers lack trust in health plans when it comes to data. Forrester’s recent research discovered that consumers don’t necessarily trust health plans to keep personal health information private. Furthermore, Bruce Temkin’s excellent Customer Experience Index work at Forrester found that health plans rank in last place in customer experiences.

With the growing role consumers are playing in personal health financing, banks are launching an initiative to play a major role in managing personal health information. The Medical Banking Project (MBP) was founded in 2001 as a rallying point for financial services institutions who were carving out a role in health care. Since then, the MBP has grown its membership and mission beyond driving paper out of health care. Its sights are set on “medical banking convergence:” the integration of medical information with health financial data.

But will consumers slow this convergence given their potential concerns about banks managing health information found by Medavante?

Health Populi’s Hot Points: It is possible that consumer trust has eroded in banks’ handling of personal information given more press and concern about identity theft, privacy gaffes, and potentially, the impact of the sub-prime mortgage crisis on the consumer psyche. At the same time, Medavante’s poll shows that consumers may have more trust in health plans — which would be big news for the industry.

If Medavante’s findings are right, health plans have an opportunity to capitalize on consumer trust. this is a fragile phenomenon: the industry should move carefully, with transparency, and in full consultation with consumers.