July 1, 2019
Patients paid more of out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in 2018 than they did in the previous year, according to a new TransUnion Healthcare analysis. The company found that patients experienced annual increases of up to 12% in their out-of-pocket responsibilities for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department care.
In 2018, roughly 59% of patients had an average out-of-pocket expense between $501 and $1,000 during a healthcare visit. That represents an increase from 39% in 2017. Conversely, the number of patients that had an average out-of-pocket expense of $500 or below decreased from 49% in 2017 to 36% in 2018.
“For several years, patients have faced a greater cost burden as healthcare expenses shifted from payers to patients,” said Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare. “As a result, patients are now making decisions about where they receive care based on costs—not just the quality of care they may receive.”
This shift in decision-making reflects the growing trend of consumerism within healthcare. Patients are increasingly price sensitive and are willing to shop around for the best value.
An of example of consumerism involves inpatient care versus outpatient services. Inpatient care, which is traditionally the most expensive healthcare option, has seen a leveling off, with the percentage of price estimates remaining at 8% between 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, the percentage of outpatient services estimates, generally about one-quarter of the cost of inpatient services, rose in that same timeframe from 65% to 73%.
With consumerism in mind, price transparency is critical for healthcare providers who are competing for patients, Wojczynski said.
For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec