Two-thirds of Americans support state-mandated health insurance, with roughly the same percent supporting a tax increase to cover the uninsured.

Welcome to the latest picture of health care consumers, brought to you by those clever researchers at the Center for Health Solutions at Deloitte.

Deloitte’s 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers presents the latest numbers on Americans and how they feel about the US health system, health politics, and innovations in health care delivery. The survey was conducted among people age 18-75 in September 2007.

Top-line: 9 in 10 Americans don’t believe they are prepared to meet the costs of health care in the future. Remember: this survey isn’t just among boomers, it’s a cross-section of adults under 76 years of age.

As the Kaiser Health Care Poll has found, health care is a top 3 issue this year for nearly one-half of Americans. 79% say the candidates’ positions on health care would likely influence their vote.

The Deloitte team smartly segmented consumers in six groups:
  • Content & compliant, 29% of Americans
  • Sick & savvy, 24%
  • Online & onboard, 8%
  • Shop & cave, 2%
  • Out & about, 9%
  • Casual & cautious, 28% of the population.

With an eye toward the next Health 2.0 meeting convening in San Diego on 3 March, it’s great to see the category, “online and onboard.” These are the consumer digerati who are health-wired and, as Deloitte puts it, are “demanding enhanced online access to all facets of health care.” But the power of the Internet in health goes beyond these 8% cutting-edgistas; overall, 60% of Americans want online access to doctors, medical records, test results and appointment scheduling. Nearly 1 in 2 people are interested in keeping a personal health record — these tend to be Gen X folks and women. Surprisingly, 1 in 4 people said they’d pay for these kinds of services.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: What’s most exciting about Deloitte’s findings is that a majority of consumers are looking for better service, personalization, and tools to make their health care experience ‘their’ health care experience. 78% of Americans want to customize their health insurance. People are looking to health plans to help them support clinical decision making, and they’re looking for custom-fit services — not just a package at a set price, but value for a price. And that value will be determined by the consumer him/herself. Some 12% of consumer said they’d even be willing to pay something out-of-pocket to access health management tools.

There’s a phrase used in social media circles that describes consumers as, “We the People, Formerly Known as the Audience.” Now, in the context of the Deloitte study, consider: “We, the People, Formerly Known as Patients.” They’re more than ‘health can consumers,’ and we must understand them in a context beyond what’s come to be thought of as “consumer-driven health care.” The health consumer v2.0 will co-create, along with other aspects of her life, her health plan, her health services, and…her health.

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