This week, WEX’s Health division released their new consumer healthcare report, “Paying for Healthcare in America: Challenges, Missed Opportunities & What We Can Do.” The report and its findings sprang from the three consumer studies that WEX conducted this past year. To help consumers, we researched their understanding of and feelings toward health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), as well as how they make healthcare benefits decisions for themselves and their families.
We believe that we are all better served—and we all serve better—when we understand not only the individuals and families using our healthcare financial technology platform, but also the wants and needs of all Americans. How do we do that? For us, the best place to start was with a close look at the decisions and frustrations they face daily.
Here are five of the report’s most important findings:
- Fear of medical bankruptcy is impacting Americans’ psyche. More than a quarter of workers told us their anxiety about healthcare expenses has grown worse in the past year. Unsurprisingly, we found that out-of-pocket expenses hit low-to-moderate-income households hardest and cause them more anxiety, but even high-income workers report significant financial health struggles.
- Nearly twice as many employees are stressed about their finances than are stressed about their jobs, according to one annual industry survey. Employees also say their financial stress is worse than their stress over health concerns and relationships combined. That means there are now more people who lie awake at night worrying about the cost of a future healthcare event than there are those worrying about a future healthcare event itself.
- Workers regularly forgo healthcare services due to associated out-of-pocket expenses. A quarter of the workers we surveyed reported that doing without healthcare services has impacted their productivity or engagement at work, most commonly leading them to feel distracted or spaced out, or causing them to call in sick, do very little work during the workday or leave work early.
- Employees don’t feel like they have “friends” in benefits. As we talked to consumers about their health benefits, a theme quickly emerged: Many question the motives of employers and benefits administrators and feel as though the system is a “game,” intentionally designed to be confusing. Forty-nine percent of American say it is either “very challenging” or “somewhat challenging” to know whom to trust when it comes to looking after their financial and physical health.
- Americans don’t understand their healthcare options. More than three-quarters of the employees we surveyed spend less than an hour evaluating their healthcare options during open enrollment. As a result, too many employees default to the plan they had the year before, without spending time to reflect on what type of plan makes the most sense for them.
For more insights and suggestions about how to change the consumer story for the better, download our “Paying for Healthcare in America” report.