Do Consumers Use Information to Choose a Health Care Provider System?

March 2000
Feldman R, Christianson J, and Schultz J

Milbank Quarterly--March 2000

This study examines the use of information by employees in the Buyers Health Care Action Group, a purchasing coalition of large employers in Minneapolis. BHCAG employers contract directly with multiple health-care provider systems and attempt to inform employees about those choices. Shortly after the close of the 1998 open-enrollment period, a survey of 927 BHCAG employees with single-coverage health insurance was conducted. Seventy-six percent of the employees relied on information from their employer when selecting their current care system. Use of information from the employer was positively related to education and years of residence in the Twin Cities. Previous experience with doctors and hospitals in the care system also was a common information source. Older and low-income workers were more likely to use information from advertisements. The survey results suggest that employers can predict which information sources their employees will use.