During most of the recent recession, consumers tended to put off expenditures, even those related to healthcare. But that may be changing. Using March 2009 as a baseline, Thomson Reuters reports that by June and July, consumer attitudes regarding healthcare procedures and expenditures improved, up by 12%. The survey covered several facets of healthcare doctorincluding urgent care and testing which saw the highest growth rates in consumer confidence, while elective surgery and therapy had more modest increases.

The report revealed significant differences between demographic groups. Consumers over age 65 reported the most confidence when it came to paying for and accessing healthcare. Income also proved to be a predictor of consumer confidence. Consumers with household incomes of between $50,000 and $75,000 experienced the greatest increase in confidence. Education also played a role in consumer outlook. People with a full college degree and those with a high school diploma or less both registered significant improvements in confidence levels.

The new positive feelings about healthcare mean that consumers may soon be shopping around for providers of everything from diagnostic testing to elective surgery. As a result, healthcare providers who may have cut marketing budgets during the recession could be increasing their advertising as they hope to improve their market share.

[Source: Thompson Reuters Healthcare Indexes: Consumer Confidence – August 2009]