Nearly 9 out of 10 US consumers blame surprise healthcare costs on insurance companies

Surprise health costs - American Money

Recent survey results show 86 percent of consumers blame their insurers for unexpected bills.

Most insurance beneficiaries place the blame of surprise healthcare costs directly on their insurance companies. This, according to the findings in a newly published consumer survey.

The report suggested that health insurance companies need to boost their education and communication.

As 86 percent of consumers feel that surprise healthcare costs are their insurance company’s fault, there survey results show a disconnect between policyholders and their insurers. The survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

They concluded that health insurance companies and their customers would benefit if those insurers would improve their financial education strategies. The results also recommended that health insurers focus on providing clearer communication with their policyholders.

Survey participants were also likely to blame hospitals for their unexpected healthcare costs.

Among the survey respondents, there was also a widespread willingness to blame hospitals for the unexpected medical bills they received. Nearly as many participants said as much. However, only 71 percent of the survey respondents pointed the finger at their family physicians as being responsible for costs they hadn’t been expecting for their health care.

“Most Americans have been surprised by medical bills that they expected would be covered by their insurance,” said NORC senior fellow Caroline Pearson. “This suggests that consumers may have difficulty understanding their insurance benefits or knowing which providers are included in their plan’s network.”

Pearson pointed out that despite the fact that the surprise healthcare costs are on bills issued from physicians or hospitals, it is the insurance companies most commonly held accountable for them. She acknowledged the inconsistency of that trend but also underscored that it didn’t surprise the researchers.

“We know people feel a high degree of confidence and trust in their physicians and hospitals, but there is rarely a similar level of trust associated with the insurance company,” said Pearson. She also explained that while doctors Surprise health costs - American Moneybuild trust with their patients and are seen as people, health insurance companies are seen as massive, faceless entities. They are a bill received in the mail or a toll-free number but they “don’t have the same level of credibility and trust in the minds of a patient.”

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