What consumers want in healthcare


Consumers are confused, concerned, and uncertain about their health insurance and financing needs. Companies should listen to them.

In the quickly changing health care financing sector, decision-making power and financial responsibility increasingly fall to individuals instead of companies. But many consumers aren’t accustomed to shopping for health insurance, so they are not prepared for this additional responsibility. Feeling confused, concerned, and unprepared, they want personalized support to help them make and manage complex decisions—in particular, more relevant, understandable, and accessible options. This portrait emerges from a 2007 McKinsey survey, in which we questioned some 3,000 people—who have the option of choosing a health insurer—about their health care concerns, perceptions, and purchasing behavior.

Our results reveal substantial opportunities in the health care financing sector for many current and potential players, including incumbent payers, financial-services providers, technology “infomediaries,” and health care providers. Retail health consumers constitute a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, where revenue growth and profit margins are 2.5 and 1.5 times higher, respectively, than those of the more traditional group-sponsored health insurance markets. Currently, 116 million consumers have a choice of health insurance, and that number is expected to reach 151 million by 2011. To win the business of these consumers, players in the health care financing sector will have to listen carefully to them and provide better support.

This originally appeared in McKinsey Quarterly