News Reports about a Weakening Economy Impacting How Some Patients Seek Medical Treatment

TransUnion Healthcare finds half of patients factor costs into their decision to use a provider

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The healthcare industry generally is not top of mind when there are news reports about inverted yield curves and other economic indicators. Yet a new survey from TransUnion Healthcare (NYSE: TRU) found that such news may influence how some patients seek medical treatment.

More than 40% of recent patients said the state of the economy affects how often they seek medical care. One in four patients said news of a weakening economy prompts them to leverage their existing health insurance for a checkup or other medical treatment they may have been putting off.

“Consumerism is here to stay in the healthcare industry. As more of the cost burden for medical care shifts to patients, people are paying attention to news about the economy and the impact it may have on their families,” said Dave Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare. “Consequently, patients are conducting research to determine the prices of medical procedures prior to care. For healthcare providers, this means they need to offer both quality care and a positive patient financial experience.”

TransUnion Healthcare surveyed more than 2,500 people in August 2019 who had either visited a hospital, healthcare clinic, doctor’s office or other healthcare organization for treatment in the last 12 months. The survey found that 75% of patients utilize either healthcare provider or payer/insurance websites, among other sources, to research healthcare costs. The youngest generations – Gen Z and Millennials – tended to conduct the most research. 

This information is of special consequence to healthcare providers as the survey found that 62% of respondents said knowing their out-of-pocket expenses in advance of service impacts the likelihood of pursuing care. Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said having clear information on expected out-of-pocket costs before receiving treatment impacts their decision to use a healthcare provider.

“Younger generations are taking a very proactive approach and many are educating themselves on the financial aspects of their care prior to service. Patients are now experiencing larger out-of-pocket costs due to increased cost shifting in commercial and government plans so the onus is now on them to know what their financial responsibility is upfront,” added Wojczynski.

Youngest Generations Most Engaged About Their Healthcare Costs

Generations*AllGen Z MillennialsGen XBaby

Percent of Patients Conducting Some Form of Research on Healthcare Costs


Percent of Patients That Said Having Clear Information on Out-of-Pocket Costs Would Impact their Decision to Use a Healthcare Provider


*Gen Z (born 1995 or after); Millennials (1980-1994); Gen X (1965-1979); Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Clear understanding of healthcare costs = more patient payments

Healthcare costs are a major concern for patients because their portion of the bill continues to grow. A recent TransUnion Healthcare report found that approximately 59% of patients in 2018 had an average out-of-pocket expense between $501 and $1,000 during a healthcare visit – up from 39% in 2017. 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.

With patients continuing to be burdened with more payment responsibility, some of them may be put at risk for significant medical debt. It’s especially important because as healthcare costs rise, confusion about billing reigns. Only half of survey respondents said that they were provided with clear information on their expected out-of-pocket costs before receiving treatment. Not surprisingly, only 51% of those surveyed said they fully understood their financial responsibility for a medical bill.

The importance of understanding or even receiving an estimate for healthcare costs is clear. When given an estimate at the time of service, nearly two-thirds of patients (65%) said they’d be more willing to make at least a partial payment.

“It’s critical for healthcare providers to provide their patients with as much clear, accurate information about their costs as possible,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare. “Patients who understand what they owe for a medical procedure are more likely to pay than those who either don’t receive an estimate or are confused by the bill they receive.”

The survey found that more work can be done by healthcare providers to ensure patients better understand their costs. “In addition to offering cost estimates, healthcare providers also can leverage new technologies to determine if patients can qualify for some form of charity care,” added Wiik. Truman Medical Centers is leveraging such technologies to financially screen in advance to help patients understand charity options available to them.

“We like that our solutions enable us to perform a general screening right off the bat to see what patients can qualify for, instead of assuming that they’ll need to go straight to financial assistance,” said Cari Benshoof, Corporate Director, Patient Access & Financial Counseling at Truman Medical Centers. “Because our financial counselors have a high volume of patients to see each day, we aim to serve walk-in outpatients in 30 minutes or less. In that short time, counselors need to screen patients, complete Medicaid applications, gather all required verifications and scan all necessary documents. Since implementing a solution, we’ve definitely seen a sizable increase in the number of Medicaid applications completed and in reimbursement revenue.”

Please click here to learn more about the TransUnion Healthcare patient survey and other patient financial experience information.

About TransUnion Healthcare
TransUnion Healthcare, a wholly owned subsidiary of global information and insights company TransUnion, is a trusted provider of Revenue Protection® solutions that prevent revenue leakage by helping over 1,800 hospitals and 500,000 physicians engage patients early, ensure earned revenue gets paid and optimize collection strategies. TransUnion Healthcare leverages extensive data assets, patented and peer-reviewed revenue cycle technologies and advanced analytics to uncover deep insights that help providers improve the patient financial experience, understand patient behavior patterns, reduce uncompensated care, maximize reimbursement and collectively recover over $1.0 billion annually in revenue. TransUnion Healthcare’s Revenue Protection solutions represent the most comprehensive suite of Patient Access and Revenue Recovery solutions in the industry and serve a wide range of hospitals and health systems, ambulatory and physician practices, government, healthcare payers, and healthcare partners and resellers.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

We call this Information for Good

ContactDave Blumberg

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Patients Seeking Price Transparency