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If You Build a Reliable Healthcare Planning Website for New Yorkers, They Will Come

Robin Gelburd, JD
FAIR Health's data show New Yorkers are embracing a website to help them plan for their medical and dental needs. An early lesson? Consumers go mobile for medical information.
Since last September, when we launched YouCanPlanForThis.org, a free website designed to help New Yorkers across the state plan for their medical and dental costs, visitor statistics have revealed the site’s broad popularity, suggesting that consumers have a strong appetite for independent, reliable healthcare information. If you build it, they will come.

Vital Statistics

Men and women of all ages visited YouCanPlanForThis.org between its launch on September 12, 2017, and January 23, 2018, according to our analytics. Every age group among adults 18 and older was represented:

 
  • Ages 18-24—12.40%
  • Ages 25-34—13.58%
  • Ages 35-44—9.65%
  • Ages 45-54—12.21%
  • Ages 55-64—18.90%
  • Ages 65 and older—33.25%


Baby boomers, whom the US Census Bureau defines as ages 54-72, visited in large numbers, with about half of the site’s visitors aged 55 and older. The other half of visitors ranged in age from 18 to 54. Millennials, whom the Census Bureau defines as ages 18-36, accounted for over a quarter of all site visitors.

Both women (63.09%) and men (36.91%) visited the site. We have conducted focus groups showing that women are often healthcare decision makers and caregivers. In keeping with those findings, the majority of visitors were women, but, significantly, men also were well represented.

The top medical terms visitors searched for were (in order from most to least common): MRI, colonoscopy, dermatological, physical therapy and emergency. The top dental terms were (in the same order): root canal, implant, orthodontic, extraction and crown.

The vast majority of visitors (74.52%) used mobile devices to access the site, suggesting how popular that technology has become for accessing all kinds of information, including healthcare. Tablets (18.71%) and desktops (6.77%) accounted for the rest of the traffic.

Twenty-five percent of visitors reached the site through a link on social media, indicating the growing power of that channel in directing people to healthcare resources. Sixty-five percent of visitors came through a direct web search for the site, largely due to a statewide educational campaign. Referrals triggered by media mentions about the site accounted for most of the remaining traffic.

Why They Are Coming

It is easy to understand why YouCanPlanForThis.org has such broad appeal. Consumers require a foundational understanding and guidance when it comes to managing the costs associated with their healthcare. Today’s consumers typically shoulder a greater responsibility for rising healthcare costs: Plans featuring narrower provider networks, higher deductibles and increased cost-sharing features have made it all the more critical to access objective information about costs and insurance.

With generous support from the New York State Health Foundation, we used our award-winning national consumer site, fairhealthconsumer.org, as a model for building YouCanPlanForThis.org. Both sites draw their data from our vast data repository, the nation’s largest collection of private healthcare claims, which includes over 25 billion private insurance claim records dating back to 2002.

YouCanPlanForThis.org offers New Yorkers:

 
  • Cost lookup tools that enable consumers to estimate in-network and out of-network costs for thousands of medical procedures in their geographic areas, and out-of-network costs for dental procedures (estimated in-network dental costs are due to be released later this year);
  • Total and itemized in-network and out-of-network costs of 25 common episodes of care or “medical bundles”;
  • Individual provider listings for 100 frequently performed procedures, including information about providers’ practices and prices;
  • Hospital-specific pricing for 20 common outpatient procedures with specified quality metrics at hospitals in four New York locations—Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Westchester; and
  • A rich educational curriculum with articles on insurance basics, a glossary, videos, resource links and information on healthcare quality measures.


The site has already been recognized as a critical consumer tool for advancing price transparency. Last fall, YouCanPlanForThis.org was singled out as an “excellent consumer website” in the Altarum and Catalyst for Payment Reform’s Price Transparency & Physician Quality Report Card 2017.

Because healthcare costs are a pressing concern in this nation, other states, encouraged by the success of YouCanPlanForThis.org, have approached FAIR Health, interested in how they can adapt it for their constituents.

To learn how YouCanPlanForThis.org can help consumers plan for and manage their healthcare expenses, register for the free one-hour webcast FAIR Health will be hosting on March 1. 2018.

About the Author

Robin Gelburd, JD, is the president of FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization with the mission of bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. FAIR Health possesses the nation’s largest collection of private healthcare claims data, which includes over 25 billion claim records contributed by payors and administrators who insure or process claims for private insurance plans covering more than 150 million individuals. FAIR Health also holds separate data representing the experience of more than 55 million individuals enrolled in Medicare. Certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a Qualified Entity, FAIR Health receives all of Medicare Parts A, B and D claims data for use in nationwide transparency efforts.

 
Copyright AJMC 2006-2018 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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