Is your personal doctor worth $100 per month?

Whether they just want to avoid the hassle of trying to find a new doctor or they highly value their personal doctors, most consumers indicate they would not change doctors for less than $100 per month.  Even at $100 per month, it is not a sure bet that the typical consumer will voluntarily change doctors.

In the most recent DSS Health Care Engagement Index (Q2 2012 HCEI), 80% of consumers said they have a personal doctor they see for check-ups, advice about health problems or when they are sick or injured.  Only 30% of these consumers with personal doctors said they would be extremely likely or very likely to change their personal doctor if they could save $50 per person per month on their health insurance premium.  Even at a savings of $100 per person per month, only 46% said they are extremely likely (26%) or very likely (20%) to change their personal doctor.

At $100 per person per month, the following groups are the most likely to consider switching doctors:

  • Commercial group members (52%) are much more likely to consider switching than are Medicare members (28%).
  • Males (50%) are more likely than females (43%) to switch.
  • 18 to 30 years ago (61%) are more likely than 45 to 64 year olds (42%) or 65 to 79 year olds (18%).
  • The lowest income group (< $15K – 48%) are only slightly more likely than the highest income group ($75K+ – 44%) to switch doctors to save $100 per month.

The most engaged consumers are more likely to have a relationship with a personal doctor, but due to their greater familiarity with health care networks and more thoughtful evaluation of health insurance benefits, there is little difference between the most engaged and least engaged consumers regarding their willingness to switch doctors to save $50 or $100 per person per month.  

In most cases, the willingness to switch doctors is directly correlated with the proportion of each population that has a current doctor relationship.  The greater the proportion of consumers in a particular group that has a personal doctor, the more reluctant those with personal doctors in that group are to consider switching doctors.  Besides health care engagement (mentioned above), the only situation where the relationship breaks down is between the lowest and highest income consumers.  Less than two-thirds of consumers making less than $15,000 per year have a personal doctor compared to 91% of those making $75,000 or more per year.  However, only 48% of the lowest income consumers are willing to change their doctor to save $100 per person per month compared to 44% of the highest income consumers.

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