Consumers are interested in a variety of financial instruments to help them purchase health care. However, even when given a choice to shop for and eventual purchase insurance, millions of people don’t.

Consumers are confused about health plan choices and need help in financial decision making. Data from McKinsey presented in an essay, What consumers want in health care, analyzes results from a survey of about 3,000 retail health consumers. According to McKinsey, “many consumers aren’t accustomed to shopping for health insurance, so they are not prepared for this additional responsibility.”

One of the most surprising, sobering findings is that people were more concerned about the cost of illness than about the illness itself.

McKinsey found age differences in the population vis-a-vis health cost concerns. Not surprisingly, younger people 18-34 are more concerned about dental and accidents; older people are more worried about major medical events and LTC.

Thus, there’s an opportunity to develop relevant and useful fin
ancial services and tools that help consumers sort out these tough decisions.

This chart inventories some of the possibilities. Beyond insurance products, for example, some consumers like the idea of discount cards and annuities.

Note that there isn’t a great deal of variance in consumers’ minds between the uses of these mechanisms based on whether the funds would go to long-term care, catastrophic expenses, or medical cost increases. The biggest differentiator is for catastrophic expenses, where consumers seem to understand the application of a savings vehicle.

Many consumers like the idea of paying for support and advice for guidance. However, McKinsey found that while about 70% of consumers want such support when shopping for new coverage, only 41% of those who had access to it found it “satisfactory.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
You know you have a problem with your health system when you’re more concerned about the cost of your care than fighting your disease. McKinsey’s survey data reveals a dazed and confused health consumer who says she’s willing to play the game, but needs the right tools to do so. McKinsey did a comprehensive survey into consumer-directed health care in 2005. How far have we come since then? According to this latest survey, in 3 years, not nearly far enough.