How Much Will It Cost? How Americans Use Prices in Health Care

March 2015
Schleifer, D., Hagelskamp, C., and Rinehart, C.

As Americans shoulder more health care costs, Public Agenda research suggests that many are hungry for more and better price information. This report finds that a majority of Americans have tried to find information about health care prices before getting care, including 21 percent who have compared prices across multiple providers. This report presents findings from a nationally representative survey of 2,010 U.S. adults (ages 18+), conducted via telephone and online during the summer of 2014. Most of those who have compared prices say they saved money. The researchers also found that the majority of Americans do not believe higher-priced care is necessarily of better quality. And most say insurance companies should be required to make public how much they pay doctors for medical services.

The research also highlights potential obstacles to increasing the number of those who compare prices. Most Americans are not aware prices can vary across health care providers. People are split on whether or not they think it is reasonable to expect patients to compare prices before getting care. And half of those who have not ever tried to find out prices before getting care say they are unsure how to do so.

Read full report.