Certain consumer groups, including women, people under age 45, and those who faced health insurance premium or cost-sharing increases, are more likely to research information on health care decisions, according to findings by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a private nonprofit in Washington, D.C.
In addition, people with higher levels of education are more likely than those with less education to seek objective health care information before beginning treatment.
The analysis is based on the EBRI/MGA 2010 Health Confidence Survey, which examines a wide array of health care issues, including Americans' satisfaction with and confidence in the health care system and Medicare, as well as their attitudes toward health care reform.
The study found that overall, 45 percent of the population tried to find health information about the pros and cons of different treatments, and only 14 percent tried to find information about the number of disciplinary actions taken against a doctor or hospital. About a quarter tried to find cost information; 28 percent sought information for full costs of different treatments, and 24 percent researched costs of different doctors and hospitals.
Among other key findings from the study:
- People younger than age 45 were more likely than those over 65 to research treatments, costs and doctors or hospitals.
- Those who reported their health had worsened during the past five years were more likely than other consumers to research information about the number and success rate of procedures performed at a hospital, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of various treatments.
- The uninsured were more likely than those with health insurance coverage to search for information about both treatment costs and provider costs. Individuals whose health insurance premiums increased were more likely than those not experiencing an increase to research treatments, doctors' training, and health care costs.