Issue Brief: Spending on Shoppable Services in Health Care

This issue brief examines health care spending on shoppable services in 2011. Contrary to expectations, giving consumers prices so they can shop for health care services may only have a modest effect on reducing health spending.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • In 2011, about 43% of the $524.2 billion spent on health care services for commercially insured people was considered shoppable.
  • About 15%—nearly $81 billion—of the total spent on health care for the commercially insured was spent out of pocket.
  • Of the total amount spent out-of-pocket by consumers, about 7%—$27.7 billion—was spent on shoppable services.
  • Most out-of-pocket dollars (44%) were spent on shoppable ambulatory doctor services.

Download Issue Brief (PDF)

Read the accompanying blog post in Health Affairs co-authored with Lynn Quincy of Consumers Union: Health Care Consumerism: Can The Tail Wag The Dog