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Survey: Workers Use Employer Health Plan for Medical Info

Abacus (Anssi Koskinen/Flickr)Most U.S. workers covered by employer- or union-provided health plans go to those plans for medical information, according to a recent survey. The survey, conducted in October 2010 by the National Business Group on Health — an association of more than 300 large employers — had respondents from 1,538 employees at organizations with 2,000 or more employees.

The survey found that three in four workers (75%) use their employer as a resource for medical and health information in 2010, a sharp increase from just over half (54%) in 2007. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) rate their employers as at least moderately trustworthy sources of heath information.

Fewer workers in 2010 sought information from doctor’s offices, magazine and newspaper articles, and prescription drug package inserts, compared to 2007. Percentages relying on friends, family, pharmacists, and medical Web sites stayed about the same as 2007.

The findings suggest employees covered by health plans do their homework before going to the doctor. More than eight in 10 (85%) of respondents look for health care information about symptoms before visiting a doctor while 71% of respondents say they brought a list of questions to ask their doctor during a visit.

Better preparation by the employees, however, does not always translate into a better doctor visit. About four in 10 respondents (41%) indicate they were unsure how to discuss their concerns with the doctor, while nearly half (47%) feel their doctors were rushed during the visit.

About half of the employees surveyed are somewhat familiar with comparative effectiveness research (CER), which can help doctors and patients know what type of health care works best by comparing the effectiveness of different health tests or treatments. Some 53 percent of respondents said they heard about CER a few times, while 28 percent said they heard about CER more than a few times. Of respondents who have know about CER, nearly six in 10 (57%) believe this type of research is very important.

Read more: Consumers Want, Will Pay for Predictive Health Tests

Photo: Anssi Koskinen/Flickr

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