The cost of health care may prompt some consumers to accept significant inconvenience, to new research.

A 2016 FAIR Health-ORC Survey Report of 1,006 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, the survey provides a nuanced window into consumers’ attitudes and practices related to those areas. The research was supported by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), which is dedicated to expand health insurance coverage, increase access to high-quality health care services and improve public and community health. 

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The research indicates that consumers regard health-related issues as challenging and complicated. For example, while consumers clearly desire health care value, they may lack the requisite information to make decisions involving health care economics.

Asked how far they would be willing to travel to see a health care provider outside their local area if they could save at least 50 percent of the cost of treatment for a serious health condition, 57 percent of respondents were willing to travel 50 miles or more. That total included 39 percent who would travel 100 miles or more. Baby boomers (ages 52 to 70) were nearly as willing as millennials (ages 18 to 35) to make a trip of 50 miles or more.

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Yet, when asked how many hours a year they would spend, or have spent, researching various topics, consumers indicated that they spent more time researching a vacation (24.7 hours) than health or dental coverage (23.5 hours) or the choice of a doctor or dentist (19.5 hours).

The survey notes that may be due, in part, to a lack of understandable, accessible information on health care pricing comparable to the abundant commercial information available on vacations.

Contrary to the common belief that men tend to ignore symptoms and delay seeking health care, the survey also found that men reported spending twice as many hours per year (40.8 hours) as women (20.5 hours) researching health symptoms, diagnoses and treatments.

Asked to name their most trusted source for information on health care costs, respondents were divided in their answers. But, 24 percent selected health care nonprofits as their most trusted source, just behind the largest group (26 percent), who chose medical groups or hospital organizations.

The infographic below provides additional highlights from the Fair Health-ORC survey. (Click on infographic to enlarge.)

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