CONSUMER DEMAND

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As a result of their frustration, more consumers are trying to get more involved in the cost of their own managed-care plans. Whereas medical bills were once accepted at face value, today consumers are growing savvier about the variability of medical-care pricing. In particular, Americans are becoming more willing to negotiate costs.

According to a January 2002 Harris Interactive survey of 2,118 adults, 17 percent say that in the past year they have tried to negotiate a lower fee with their pharmacist, 13 percent have done so with their doctor, 12 percent with their dentist and 10 percent with a hospital. Those most likely to haggle over bills describe their health as only fair or poor. Considering the success rate of such negotiations, haggling may be the wave of the future. Of those adults who asked for lower prices, about half succeeded. Most easy to win over were doctors: 54 percent of adults say their efforts resulted in a lower bill, while 48 percent of pharmacists, 47 percent of dentists and 45 percent of hospitals complied.

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOCTOR IN THE WINDOW?

In the past year, more consumers negotiated lower prices for their medical bills.

In the past 12 months, have you talked to any of the following to see if you could pay a lower price than they billed you, or wanted to bill you?

TALKED TO: ALL ADULTS HEALTH EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD FAIR/POOR
Pharmacist 17% 10% 18% 27%
Doctor 13% 10% 12% 20%
Dentist 12% 12% 12% 13%
Hospital 10% 7% 9% 20%

In the next two years, if the out-of-pocket cost to you of your medical bills increases substantially, how likely would you be to negotiate a better price for a medical bill?

ALL ADULTS HEALTH EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD FAIR/POOR
Very likely 32% 33% 32% 33%
Likely 21% 21% 21% 23%
Somewhat likely 22% 24% 23% 16%
Not at all likely 12% 16% 10% 15%
Not sure 12% 6% 15% 14%
Source: Harris Interactive, January 2002
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