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The customer is always right is the mantra of the retail industry, popularized by Chicago retailer Marshall Fields. However, this philosophy has never really had a place in health care - until now. Many Americans no longer view themselves as traditional passive patients, but as consumers. As such, they want to make informed decisions when they "Shop" for health care, just as they do when selecting other products and services. They want access to more options, as well as to tools and information that can help them make decisions and manage their care more effectively on their own. Health care "Consumerism" has been a buzz word for years, but what do health plans and other industry stakeholders really know about consumers' behaviors, attitudes and unmet needs? The Deloitte1 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers suggests that there are distinct consumer segments with diverse needs and preferences that are not well understood by health plans today. Across these segments, there are unmet needs that present opportunities for health plans to fill the void. To capitalize on this opportunity, however, health plans need to consider new strategies, capabilities and investments. The purpose of Deloitte's study was to assess the behaviors, attitudes and unmet needs of adult consumers to provide health care industry leaders and policymakers with a comprehensive assessment of the current state of health care consumerism. The survey included a broad range of questions related to health, health care and health insurance. To optimize objectivity, the questionnaire first inquired about consumers' behaviors, then asked about their attitudes and unmet needs.
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