Consumers unsure of how U.S. healthcare system works, survey finds

WASHINGTON Despite widespread media coverage on healthcare reform, political debates and legislative initiatives over the past year, many consumers still do not understand how the healthcare system works, according to the 3rd Annual Deloitte Center for Health Solutions Survey of Health Care Consumers.

The survey also found that, despite suffering from chronic conditions and often not participating in a wellness program, many consumers still perceive themselves as healthy -- a problem that will continue to challenge the healthcare system.

"In a year marked by historic debate over the future of the healthcare system, our survey indicates that not much has changed from 2009 to 2010 in terms of consumers' understanding and perceptions of the system," stated Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.


The Web-based questionnaire of 4,008 U.S. consumers ages 18 years and older was conducted between Dec. 28, 2009 and Jan. 5, 2010.


According to the survey, 23% of respondents said they understand how the healthcare system works, but 76% grade the system a "C" or below and nearly half (48%) believe that 50% or more of healthcare dollars are wasted.

More than half (57%) of consumers surveyed said they are satisfied with their health plan, yet 46% said they understand their health insurance coverage. One-in-four do not know how much they are paying for health insurance.


The survey also identified a variety of contradictions concerning consumers' perceptions, attitudes and behaviors about their healthcare decisions and personal health status.



For example, 88% of consumers surveyed said they believe they are in "excellent," "very good" or "good" health, yet 54% have been diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions and, of the 56% who take prescription medications, nearly half (47%) take three or more daily. In addition, only one-in-five surveyed said they participate in a wellness program.



Additional survey findings include:

  • Fifteen percent of consumers said they used a retail-based clinic in the past 12 months
  • More than one-third (34%) of consumers said they are likely to use a retail clinic if it cost 50% or less than a doctor's visit, compared with 30% of consumers who indicated they would do likewise in 2009
  • Confidence in prescription medications remains high and unchanged from 2009 survey results -- 3-out-of-4 are confident that the medications they take are effective
  • Sixty-seven percent of consumers indicated that they would choose a generic medication over a brand name drug if given a choice, a slight decrease from 2009 (71%)
  • Fourteen percent said they delayed or forewent treatment recommended by a doctor or medical professional.


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