‘Slow Global Economy Impacts Consumer Spending on Health Care’

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
June 22, 2011 /

The rise in health care costs and an uncertain global economy have posed challenges for consumers in their household spending and their ability to pay for future health care costs.

According to the 4th annual Deloitte Center for Health Solutions “2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers”, consumers reported that the slow growth of global economy has impacted their health care spending.

The report comes hard on the heels of Deloitte Consumer Spending Index that reported a continued downward trend on consumer spending due to a sharp increase in unemployment last month.

The findings follow Deloitte’s “The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care for Consumers: A Comprehensive Analysis,” issued in March 2011, which revealed consumers spend $363 billion more on health care than reported, outpacing housing and utility costs as a discretionary household expense.

Paul Keckley, executive director at Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, said “a new trend has emerged this year suggesting that economic uncertainty has clearly altered spending habits with many consumers reporting an impact on their out-of-pocket health care expenses.”

Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has been examining consumers’ interactions with the health care system since 2008. During April and May this year, it has surveyed more than 15,000 health care consumers in 12 different countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Regardless of the type of health care system, government-run or private, consumers around the world are feeling the pinch,” Keckley added.

Three out of four consumers in USA attested to this claim, while four in ten said they were being cautious about health care spending. Additionally, 13 percent said they have reduced it considerably.

Another 63 percent said other essentials such as housing, groceries, fuel and education have crippled their health care spending ability.

“To save money, 36 percent of prescription medication users have asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand name drug,” Deloitte found.

Furthermore, Deloitte found that 25 percent of U.S. consumers skipped seeing a doctor when sick or injured, 49 percent of which came from USA, 39 percent from Belgium, 35 percent from China, 34 percent from Mexico, 5 percent from Canada, and 7 percent in UK and Luxembourg.

Additionally, between 4 in 10 and 5 in 10 respondents saw an increase in health care spending in the past year with the exception of the United Kingdom, Canada and China.

“Three core shared beliefs became apparent this year throughout our global survey: consumers remain largely confused about their health care system; grade their system as underperforming relative to what they know of other systems; and believe spending is wasteful in their country’s health system,” said Bob Go, global managing director of life sciences and health care at Deloitte.

“More often, consumers’ opinions are based on prior personal experience rather than a systematic view, perhaps due to its complexity.”


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