Once marketers had to use surveys, focus groups and educated guessing to figure out what was scaring consumers.
Today, they have search results.
Google, for example, has gotten public health researchers’ attention with a flu tracker based on results for flu-related terms.
Now FAIR Health, a health cost data transparency organization created through a New York state settlement, is analyzing the traffic going through its Consumer Cost Lookup tool to detect trends in which health cost services are worrying consumers.
Consumers can use the lookup tool to estimate the full, out-of-network cost for specific procedures in particular markets.
Analysts came up with a table comparing the most popular searches in the second half of 2013 with the most popular searches in the second half of 2014.
The trends suggest that tougher rules requiring parity between benefits for mental health care and other types of health care may be reducing consumers’ level of anxiety about mental health costs: The share of lookup traffic related to psychotherapy fell.
But the popularity of emergency room cost searches rose.
Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health, said in a comment on the results that changes in the search mix may reflect coverage trends.
“More employers now offer narrow network and high-deductible health plans,” Gelburd said.
FAIR Health itself does not disclose the underlying search traffic figures. CuteStat.com estimates it gets about 560 unique visitors per day, and
For a look at the five services that brought consumers to the lookup tool most often in the second half of 2014, read on.
5. Emergency department visit, high severity
The cost of out-of-network emergency room care for conditions of high severity ranked eighth in 2013.