Beyond the physical and emotional pain that people experience when they become a patient, in the U.S. that person becomes a consumer bearing expenses and financial pain, as well.

98% of Americans rank paying their medical bills is an important pain point in their patient journey, according to Embracing consumerism: Driving customer engagement in the healthcare financial journey, from Experian Health. Experian is best known as the consumer credit reporting agency; Experian Health works with healthcare providers on revenue cycle management, patient identity, and care management, so the company has experience with patient finance and medical expense sticker shock.

In the course of Experian’s consumer research for this study, people identified 137 jobs in their patient experience. The largest patient experience workflows included shopping for health insurance, preparing to see a healthcare provider, connecting with that provider, managing a diagnosis, shopping for services, receiving treatment, and finally, paying for the services.

Among the dozens of personal healthcare pain points, paying for services was the most painful for the most people. Related to that, 90% of patients “vastly underestimated” the costs associated with major medical procedures, in Experian’s words.

Experian surveyed 1,000 consumers in September 2017 for this study.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Among all consumer pain points explored in the Experian study, the top-ranked tasks related to money in healthcare.

Americans’ healthcare financial pain isn’t evenly distributed across all of the nation’s health citizens, although most identify medical costs as their family’s #1 pocketbook issue, which I discussed here on Health Populi.

At this moment in U.S. health politics, many more women are concerned about losing health insurance coverage and paying more for that coverage.  More people with pre-existing conditions are concerned, as well. The second chart presents these data, published in this week’s Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, dated late Summer 2018.

The KFF survey learned that overall 85% of Americans are worried about paying more for health coverage, and 60% are worried about losing that coverage.

Health citizens across all three parties also say that ensuring people with pre-existing conditions continue to access health insurance is very important, as I recently explained here on Health Populi.

Pre-existing conditions including everything from managing diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease to being pregnant, dealing with diagnosed depression, and having erectile dysfunction.

As Americans look to policymakers at both the Federal and State levels to grapple with healthcare affordability and access, whether for repairing the Affordable Care Act or expanding Medicaid, respectively, I trust these legislators will be mindful that the majority of U.S. health citizens support continuity of care for our fellow patients, whatever political stripe. Healthcare is a Come Together moment and opportunity in America for the 2018 mid-term elections.

As a postcript, I may be an optimist compared with Paul Krugman, who published an op-ed in today’s NY Times somberly titled, Get Sick, Go Bankrupt and Die. Krugman (who, I say most humbly, is on a list with me for being one of the top 100 influential economists in the world), warns in his conclusion: “So if you’re an American who suffers from a pre-existing medical condition, or fear that you might develop such a condition in the future, you need to be clear about the reality: Republicans are coming for your health care. If they hold the line in November, health insurance at an affordable price — maybe at any price — will be gone in a matter of months.”

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