- Out-of-pocket costs are increasing even as patients shift to less expensive care settings, according to a new report from TransUnion Healthcare, a unit of global risk and information solutions provider TransUnion.
- A majority of patients (59%) paid an average out-of-pocket expense between $500 and $1,000 during a healthcare visit in 2018, a marked increase from 39% the year prior.
- At the same time, fewer patients are left with an average out-of-pocket expense that is less than $500. In 2017, 49% of patients were on the hook for a $500 expense, and that number shrank to 36% in 2018.
Healthcare is once again a top issue heading into the 2020 presidential election as consumers struggle to afford care and prescription drugs. Topping the list of concerns for most voters is healthcare and their ability to afford it, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Americans worry more about healthcare than crime or the economy, the poll found. Gripping stories of patients struggling to afford insulin and those socked with sky-high surprise bills have grabbed headlines throughout the past few years.
The Trump administration has made reining in drug costs a priority, and released a blueprint last year outlining its strategy to achieve that goal. Most recently, the president issued an executive order this week that could force more transparency by releasing information on the negotiated rates between payers and providers.
With out-of-pocket expenses rising, TransUnion Healthcare President Dave Wojczynski said patients need better information to make the most cost-effective choices.
"This means price transparency is critical for healthcare providers who are not only competing for patients, but also want to secure timely payments from them," Wojczynski said in a statement.
During a recent conference, the insurance industry acknowledged consumers' frustration with rising healthcare costs and the need to tackle the issue. Cigna CEO David Cordani told attendees affordability is at the pinnacle of the conversation.
"Society demands more value from us sooner, and they should as it relates to more personalized affordable, predictable services," he said.