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NEW VISA HEALTH CARE SURVEY GAUGES GROWTH, IMPACT OF OUT-OF-POCKET PATIENT COSTS

 NEW VISA HEALTH CARE SURVEY GAUGES GROWTH,
 IMPACT OF OUT-OF-POCKET PATIENT COSTS
 SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- One out of two Americans have seen their out-of-pocket health care expenses not covered by insurance increase substantially over the past two years -- the majority by more than 20 percent, according to a new consumer survey conducted for Visa U.S.A.
 The nationwide poll of 1,185 households, conducted by Bruskin Goldring Research for Visa U.S.A., also found that nearly half of all respondents received a new or revised insurance policy in the last two years and one in three Americans believe employers asked them to pay more for health insurance because of the weak economy. Looking to the future, 69 percent of heads of households surveyed feel that out-of- pocket health care costs will continue to increase; one in four believe the increase will be as much as between 20 to 29 percent over the next three years.
 According to figures from the Health Care Financing Administration, out-of-pocket health care expenses totalled $136.1 billion in 1990 -- approximately $1,500 per household per year.
 Visa U.S.A. launched a health care initiative that same year offering consumers and health care practitioners an alternative payment mechanism to cash and checks for rising out-of-pocket expenses. Presently, 162,000 health care facilities throughout the United States accept Visa credit and debit cards. This represents 85 percent of hospitals, 60 percent of dentists and 21 percent of physicians. Consumers are now using Visa to pay more than $3 billion in out-of- pocket expenses annually.
 "Consumers want a convenient, flexible payment alternative to cash and checks to pay for higher out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments," said Les Mann, vice president of health care marketing for Visa U.S.A. He noted that the increase in Visa use can also be attributed to the increasing practice by many health care providers of requiring patients to pay
for treatment at the time of service. The survey also found that four out of five consumers want their doctors and dentists to provide different options for settling health care bills; 7 out of 10 consumers believe their
health care provider should accept credit cards. For health care providers, card acceptance can reduce billing and collection costs. Visa U.S.A. has developed specialized transaction procedures and marketing materials to make it as easy as possible for providers to accept and encourage the use of cards, said Mann.
 Visa has also created tools to help promote dialogue between providers and patients on the subject of health care payments. For example, the company has developed a series of booklets -- one in conjunction with the American Dental Association -- that dentists, physicians and hospital care givers are now using to help inform patients about key financial issues.
 "Our survey also revealed that an alarming 72 percent of American households do not have a health care budget," said Mann. "That's a strong indication that we must continue our work with health care providers to educate consumers on the need for careful financial planning in these times of escalating costs. Visa, with more than 10 million acceptance locations and 286 million cards issued, is the world's largest consumer card payment system. Visa also has the leading ATM network globally.
 -0- 9/15/92
 /CONTACT: Gregory J. Holmes of Visa U.S.A., 415-570-2107/ CO: Visa U.S.A ST: California IN: FIN SU:


GT-RM -- SF001 -- 9561 09/15/92 11:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 15, 1992
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