INTERNATIONAL. Rising health care costs, coupled with the current state of the economy, have prompted many consumers across the globe to delay care, alter household spending and worry about 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.”
“We have been examining consumers’ interactions with the health care system since 2008. 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,” said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. “Regardless of the type of health care system, government-run or private, consumers around the world are feeling the pinch.”
Deloitte surveyed more than 15,000 health care consumers worldwide during April and May 2011. In the United States, three in four (75 percent) consumers say the recent economic slowdown has impacted their health care spending.
Four in 10 (41 percent) are being more cautious about it, 20 percent cut back on spending, and 13 percent have reduced it considerably.
In addition, 63 percent say their monthly health care spending limits their household’s ability to purchase other essentials such as housing, groceries, fuel and education. To save money, 36 percent of prescription medication users have asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand name drug.
These findings follow Deloitte's, “The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care for Consumers: A Comprehensive Analysis,” published in March 2011, which revealed consumers spend US$363 billion more on health care than traditionally reported, outpacing housing and utility costs as a discretionary household expense.
Additionally, one in four (25 percent) U.S. consumers skipped seeing a doctor when sick or injured. Of those consumers who decided not to see a doctor in the past year, those that did so due to costs ranged from a high of 49 percent in the United States, followed by Belgium (39 percent), China (35 percent) and Mexico (34 percent), to a low of 5 percent in Canada and 7 percent in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
Herve Ballantyne, Audit senior director in Saudi Arabia and Healthcare Industry leader at Deloitte in the Middle East, commented: “This is a very comprehensive survey which confirms that as government spending cuts take effect and with increasing budgetary constraints on the state, it is becoming more apparent that individuals need to make their own financial provision for health care and the challenge for the industry in the Middle East and worldwide is how to manage the expectations of this ever increasing group of consumers who will inevitably be looking for “value-for money” for a service which many perceive as a commodity or a service which governments should universally be providing to its citizens.”
According to the survey, more than half of all respondents surveyed, with the exception of the United Kingdom (24 percent) and Canada (39 percent), confirmed that household spending on health care limits their ability to spend on other household essentials.
Additionally, between 4 in 10 and 5 in 10 respondents experienced an increase in household spending on health care in the past year with the exception of the United Kingdom (22 percent), Canada (29 percent) and China (37 percent).
Consumers are uniformly negative in their judgment about the success of respective governments in balancing priorities in their health care systems with less than one in five consumers in all countries agreeing with the proposition that ‘’government is doing a good job balancing priorities in the health care system.”
Further highlighting the anxiety over escalating health care costs, consumers were mixed in assessing their household capacity to handle future expenses.
The least amount of confidence was in Portugal (18 percent), followed by Mexico (22 percent), Brazil (22 percent) and the United States (23 percent). Nearly one-third of consumers in Switzerland (27 percent), Germany (30 percent), Belgium (32 percent), China (35 percent) and Canada (39 percent) felt secure in their ability to handle future health care costs as did 41 percent of consumers in the United Kingdom and Luxemburg.
To download the report, please click here.
For more information about Deloitte, please see www.deloitte.com.
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence for over 85 years.