New research from Strategy& highlights splintering priorities and growing expectations among U.S. healthcare consumers

New York, October 14, 2014 – Strategy&, a member of the PwC network of firms, announced today the results of a survey polling more than 2,000 U.S. residents about their preferences for managing their health, purchasing healthcare coverage, and accessing care. This new research paints a clear picture of a population displeased with its overall healthcare experience, with growing expectations for transparency, value, and customer service from the organizations that finance and deliver care.

“Consumers are looking for more choice, better engagement through the channels they prefer, and healthcare experiences tailored to their individual needs,” said Ashish Kaura, partner in the health practice of Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company). “Thanks to technology and greater product transparency through exchanges, healthcare is finally becoming as consumer-driven as other B2C industries.”

This shift opens the door for new entrants to the healthcare market to take share from traditional players. According to the Strategy& survey, consumers were almost as likely to trust a large retailer or digitally enabled company such as Google or Amazon for health services as they were to trust an insurance company.

The survey also revealed a fragmenting of priorities among different strata of healthcare consumers. For example, more than four in five respondents younger than 35 said they embrace care provided via virtual marketplaces, whereas 47 percent of senior citizens “hate” the idea. At different stages of a consumer’s life, the considerations, priorities, and trade-offs in their healthcare vary significantly, affecting their decision making in a way that’s vital for healthcare companies to identify and understand.

“‘One size fits all’ does not work anymore in healthcare,” said Jaime Estupinan, partner in Strategy&’s health practice. “Consumers today are savvier and more skeptical, have more options for managing their health, and expect their individual preferences to be met. Healthcare companies need to adapt to this new reality quickly, and in some cases disrupt their own traditional business models — or risk being disrupted themselves.”

For full results and the survey report, please visit www.strategyand.pwc.com/birth-of-healthcare-consumer.

Key findings

  • Consumers are happy with various individual aspects of their experience, but they remain unsatisfied on the whole. Fully 66 percent reported satisfaction with their core benefits, and a further 63 percent said they were satisfied with what they were paying, but only 49 percent were satisfied with their overall consumer experience.
  • Exchanges are gaining traction faster than expected, and consumers are highly loyal to the first insurance plan they purchase. More than half of consumers say they’re highly satisfied with the experience of buying on healthcare exchanges — only 22 percent are not. Seventy-three percent of consumers who purchased insurance on a private exchange say they’re highly likely to stay with the same insurer next year, and 57 percent of those who purchased on a public exchange say the same.
  • Younger consumers are price-sensitive and more swayed by appearances, but have a long-term view. They place more emphasis on value than other generations, and half said they’d prefer to be treated at a hospital ranked lower nationally if it looked modern — yet they still consider “trusted advice” to be more important than value alone, demonstrating a long-term pragmatism about quality, not just cost, of care.
  • There’s a disparity between what consumers want and what they’re getting when it comes to digital healthcare services. A full 80 percent say they would engage with digital services that help manage their healthcare, but only 23 percent are currently doing that. More than a quarter of respondents listed digital means, as opposed to office visits or phone consultations, as their preferred method of engagement with a healthcare provider.

Strategy& sought to mimic the national population distribution for healthcare services in undertaking its survey. In an effort to make each subset statistically significant, respondents were spread relatively evenly across a variety of purchasing channels. Double-digit percentages of respondents come from public exchanges, private exchanges, and Medicare; individuals outside exchanges and employers outside exchanges are also represented in double digit percentages.

Respondents were grouped into three health categories: healthy, at-risk, and catastrophic. Those in the catastrophic category are the well-known 20 percent who account for 80 percent of healthcare spending in the United States. All respondents were segmented according to the following criteria:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Marital status
  • Health status
  • Employment status
  • Level of insurance coverage
  • Insurance coverage source
  • Primary or dependent status

About Strategy&

Strategy& is a global team of practical strategists committed to helping you seize essential advantage. We do that by working alongside you to solve your toughest problems and helping you capture your greatest opportunities. We bring 100 years of strategy consulting experience and the unrivaled industry and functional capabilities of the PwC network to the task. We are part of the PwC network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, and advisory services.


Katrina Grochocki
Tel: +1 908 642 3766
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