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Our New Consumer Research Report Explores Consumers’ Confused Perceptions of Benefits Options

May 22, 2019


Today, we are thrilled to introduce our newest consumer healthcare report, “Paying for Healthcare in America: Challenges, Missed Opportunities & What We Can Do.” Aligned to the WEX Health mission to simplify the business of healthcare, the report outlines numerous ways that those of us in the business of designing, administering and advocating for employee benefits can empower consumers to make more informed decisions about their benefits.

We approached this research with an understanding that Americans’ increasing financial stress is impacting all aspects of their lives, including physical and mental well-being, job performance and quality of their relationships. The study sheds light on healthcare benefit education and motivation gaps that lead Americans to miss out on opportunities to better prepare for unexpected healthcare costs—now, in the future and in retirement.


“We know the rising cost of healthcare weighs heavily on Americans and has made a significant impact on their financial health. Our work to help Americans offset costs and save for healthcare expenses has never been more critical—consumers’ overall health and well-being are on the line. Our report underscores consumers’ need for simplicity when it comes to healthcare benefits.”
—Jeff Young, President, Health, WEX Inc.


We released our first consumer healthcare report in 2018, using results from a consumer survey we commissioned to understand the landscape and develop insights for the industry. In the 2019 report released today, we took our research efforts a step further, analyzing quantitative and qualitative data from three different studies:

  • We partnered with Visa to conduct a multi-phased study involving online anthropology and user/non-user focus groups to understand the way people connect emotionally to health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
  • We surveyed and interviewed more than 2,000 full-time and part-time U.S. workers with employer-sponsored health insurance to understand their ability to plan for unexpected healthcare costs.
  • We conducted intensive focus groups with 42 individuals with experiences typical of the consumers the company serves to better understand their health plan decision-making processes, as well as their preferences and behaviors in using technology to manage healthcare spending accounts.


Research highlights include:

  • Americans’ financial health and preparedness are being devastatingly affected because of escalating healthcare costs.
  • Americans don’t know whom to trust for advice about their healthcare benefits options, resulting in low confidence in their ability to discern differences between available plans.
  • Americans struggle to make sense of health insurance industry jargon, which has led to many misconceptions, particularly about HSAs.
  • Many Americans view healthcare expenses as short-term obstacles rather than long-term planning opportunities.


For many more findings and insights, see the full report.

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