UnitedHealthcare Study: More Americans are Turning to Technology First to Evaluate and Access Health Care

More Americans are turning to technology to evaluate health conditions and access medical care, while others are still struggling with understanding basic health insurance terms, according to a new UnitedHealthcare study.

These are some of the findings from the second annual UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey, which examines more than 1,000 Americans’ attitudes and opinions about multiple areas of health care, including technology trends, health literacy and customer service. The survey’s key findings include:

More Americans are turning to technology first to access health information and care. Nearly 30 percent of the survey’s respondents said the internet or mobile apps are the first source for information about health conditions, and 42 percent said they are more likely to use telemedicine to access medical care. Also, nearly half of millennials this year said they have used online or mobile resources to comparison-shop for health care treatments or services.

Most people underestimate the connection between lifestyle choices and disease. Many respondents underestimate the connection between modifiable lifestyle choice and chronic conditions. For example, only 23 percent of people correctly recognized that the majority of premature chronic conditions are linked to controllable decisions such as smoking or poor diet, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors.

Many people say they are prepared for open enrollment. Nearly 75 percent of people said they are prepared for open enrollment, while 22 percent said they are unprepared.

Understanding of basic insurance terms has slightly improved. 9 percent of respondents successfully defined all four basic health insurance concepts — plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum, which is a slight improvement from 7 percent the previous year.

When it comes to customer service, people prefer live support. 84 percent of people surveyed preferred speaking with a customer service representative rather than connecting via email, online chat, text or speaking with an automated representative over the phone.

Most Americans believe Medicare will evolve in the coming years. In regards to potential program changes, nearly 80 percent of respondents said the federal government should shift the Medicare program away from the traditional fee-for-service system to a model that emphasizes preventive care and rewards physicians for health outcomes.

For complete survey results, click here.

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