More Americans are turning to technology first to evaluate health conditions, and a growing number are interested in using the internet to access medical care, while opportunities remain to improve peoples’ understanding of basic health insurance terms and the connection between lifestyle choices and disease, according to a new study. UnitedHealthcare shares results in a new report.
- New UnitedHealthcare survey found that nearly 30 percent of respondents said the internet or mobile apps are the first source for information about health conditions; 42 percent said they are likely to use telemedicine to access medical care.
- Most people underestimated the role lifestyle choices play in premature chronic conditions, with many incorrectly attributing genetics as the primary cause of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
- A growing number of people (32 percent) said they have used the internet or mobile apps in the last year to comparison shop for medical services, but some still underestimated the cost of care.
- Nearly 80 percent of respondents said the federal government should shift the Medicare program away from the traditional fee-for-service system to a model that emphasizes preventive care and rewards physicians for health outcomes.
These are some of the findings from the second annual UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey, which examines Americans’ attitudes and opinions about multiple areas of health care, including technology trends, health literacy and customer service. The survey’s key findings include:
- More Americans are turning to technology first to access health information and care. A growing number (42 percent) said they would be likely to use telemedicine in the future to access care, a 5 percentage point increase from 2016.
- Most people underestimated the connection between lifestyle choices and disease. Many respondents underestimated the connection between modifiable lifestyle choice and chronic conditions, with just 23 percent of people correctly recognizing that 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions are linked to controllable decisions such as smoking or poor diet.
- Many people say they are prepared for open enrollment. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of people said they are prepared for open enrollment, while 22 percent said they are unprepared.
- Understanding of basic insurance terms slightly improved. Just 9 percent of respondents successfully defined all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum. That’s a slight improvement from 7 percent a year ago.
- When it comes to customer service, people prefer live support. Most people (84 percent) preferred speaking with a customer service representative, up from 78 percent last year.
“This survey highlights why UnitedHealthcare continues to develop new ways to simplify the health care experience and make it easier and more convenient for people to access care,” said Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare. “These survey findings will build upon our experience creating innovative ways to engage with customers and help them navigate the health care system.”