April 27, 2017


Helping Americans Save on Health Care

With the latest health care reform bill failing to gain traction, we're reminded that there is no easy fix to our broken health care system. Meanwhile, Americans remain burdened by rising out-of-pocket medical costs amid diminished economic opportunity and chronic political dysfunction. They feel stuck, as we explain in our recent report, "The Fix We're In." Public Agenda is tackling critical issues such as these to help individuals, families, and communities build better lives.  
With no panacea in sight to address our current health care system troubles, we looked at a piece of the puzzle that could help people save some money and perhaps help contain health costs overall. Earlier this month, we released new research that examined how people are finding and using health care price information.
Are Americans trying to find out about health care prices today?
Do they want more information?
What sources would they trust to deliver it?
Is this information helping them save money?
Despite efforts in recent years by insurers, state governments, employers and other entities to make price information more easily available, the research shows that obstacles remain. Among the findings, about half of Americans are still not aware that hospitals' prices can vary or that doctors' prices can vary. And for those that do know this, the information is still difficult to find, as our Director of Research, David Schleifer, shared in a personal story with The Economist this week.

Sixty-three percent of Americans say there is not enough information out there. But an overwhelming majority says that it is important for their state governments to provide comparative price information. View the full report for more important findings.

Price transparency alone is not enough to make health care affordable, but by addressing the critical components of a broken system, we can help create greater economic opportunity and set the nation on a better path. Which is why we're excited to be currently analyzing new survey data about how people make tradeoffs between cost and quality in health care, and how they find information about the qualities that matter to them most. 

Keep an eye out for this new research in early July. In the meantime, we'll keep the conversation going with you on Twitter and Facebook.


Will's headshot  

Will Friedman

New from Public Agenda

As Will noted, we released new research on how people plan for their health care expenses, particularly the ways in which they find out how much a medical event will cost. David Schleifer, our Director of Research, talked with The Economist about how even people with health insurance are struggling. This research was also covered in relation to price transparency efforts in states by The Boston Globe, Crain's New York Business and NPR's KUT-Austin.


Still Searching: How People Use Health Care Price Information in the United States
Half of Americans have tried to find price information before getting care, but obstacles remain to helping them find the information that can help them save money. This research report is based on a nationally representative survey conducted in conjunction with representative surveys in four states: Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Texas.

The Fix We're In: What Americans Have to Say About Opportunity, Inequality and the System They Feel Is Failing Them
Read about focus groups we held with folks from small and large cities, including San Diego, Cincinnati, the greater metro area of New York and numerous points in between.

Success Is What Counts: A Community College Guide to Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships
This guide outlines principles of effective engagement and provides tools and resources to support effective broad-based community engagement practices. 

From the Blog

In recent years, insurers, state governments, employers and other entities have been trying to make health care price information more easily available.  The belief is that with increased price transparency, Americans will be more aware of how much their medical care costs, leading them to "shop around" to save money. In 2015, Public Agenda conducted the first nationally representative survey of how Americans seek and use health care price information. Since then, what has been done to make health care price information more transparent? And are these initiatives effective? 

Engaging Ideas - 4/21/2017
Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: How governments are using data, evidence, and crowd-sourcing community solutions. How an Islamic school is building Muslim and American identity as well as civic education. Several new reports on issues in higher education, including what's known as guided pathways reform. Three traits of good value-based payment programs.

We've joined the 12by12by12 Campaign

We've joined a family of organizations involved in a new giving program uniting people with diverse perspectives who want to be a force for good in the United States. It's called 12by12by12 and was incubated by the Connecticut Community Foundation.

The concept is to contribute a small amount, as little as $12 on the 12th of each month for a year, to a vetted group of organizations working on the ground to promote opportunity and success for all. You can find Public Agenda listed under "Advancing civil discourse and civic engagement" here

We're excited to be a part of this endeavor. Sign up for more information.   


Public Agenda helps build a democracy that works for everyone. By elevating a diversity of voices, forging common ground, and improving dialogue and collaboration among leaders and communities, Public Agenda fuels progress on critical issues, including education, health care and community engagement. Founded in 1975, Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in New York City. Find Public Agenda online at PublicAgenda.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/PublicAgenda and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.

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