2015 Healthcare Shopping Trends

How people are living—
and shopping—in this brave new health care world.


HealthSparq helps people take control of their health care
by letting them comparison shop for providers and
400+ procedures.

We’re talking health care shopping access for 74 million people across 70 U.S. health plans.

Who is shopping,
and for what?

Plenty of reports focus on health care costs. But does the price difference on a procedure in Poughkeepsie really matter if no one is shopping for care?

We must understand WHO is shopping–and what’s important to them–in order to create tools they can and want to use.

That’s why we went deeper to ask: What is important to health care shoppers?

We looked at data from 237,000 people, who searched for 523,000 total cost estimates using HealthSparq shopping tools in 2015.



*To keep it simple, in all instances cost reflects the most common and basic type of care (low severity, no complications).

HealthSparq Shoppers are:

62.1% Men 37.9% Women

Most HealthSparq shoppers are ages 25 – 44.

  • 1.6%
  • 3.4%
  • 30.3%
  • 23%
  • 19.3%
  • 22.3%

Here are the top 20 health care costs people are looking for in the U.S.

1Labor & Delivery
2Imaging and Radiology
4Colon Health
5Office Visits
6Breast Health
7Weight Loss Surgery
8Skin Conditions
9Knee Conditions
10Other Reproductive Health
11Birth Control Surgeries
12Hysterectomy or Hysteroscopy
13Behavioral & Mental Health
14Back and Neck Conditions
17Obstetric Care
18Chiropractic Care
19Physical Therapy
20Heart Disease & Circulation Conditions

As you can see, people are
searching for expensive procedures...

Cost/Shopping Category Example of Procedure National Average
Heart Disease & Circulation Conditions Coronary Bypass Surgery $86,236
Back & Neck Conditions Lumbar Fusion $71,591
Back & Neck Conditions Cervical Fusion $57,107
Heart Disease & Circulation Conditions Coronary Angioplasty with Stent $44,301
Knee Conditions Total Knee Replacement $41,627

And searching for everyday care...

In fact, these issues appeared as 4 of the top 20 most-searched terms:

15 Allergies
16 Immunizations
18 Chiropractic Care
19 Physical Therapy

And overwhelmingly–
baby is on the brain.

Whether it’s having one, not having one or moving out of those baby-making years.

These issues appeared in the top 20
most-searched terms.

1 	Labor & Delivery, 10 	Other Reproductive Health, 11 	Birth Control Surgeries, 17 	Obstetric Care 62% of searches are by men.
US Map Baby Baby Baby Baby

Labor & Delivery is the #1 most searched term in the West &
Northeast and #2 in the South and Midwest.
(Oh, baby.)

Costs for having a baby
are most searched in
July, August and November.

These three months represent 32% of all
Labor & Delivery searches for the year.

What’s interesting: CDC data shows most
babies are born during these same months.

90% of Labor & Delivery searches
are by people ages 25-44.

Women made up 78% of those searches.

It’s a bouncing baby… bill.

The national cost for Labor & Delivery:

Vaginal Delivery Min Max Average
Midwest $8,936 $12,109 $10,479
Northeast $8,364 $11,383 $9,902
South $7,928 $11,165 $9,329
West $9,194 $11,889 $10,756
National $7,928 $12,109 $11,415

Health care shopping from
sea to shining sea.

What are the top 5 things people shop for in each region?

Top 5: West

US West
  • 1. Labor & Delivery
  • 2. Imaging & Radiology
  • 3. Colon Health
  • 4. Breast Health
  • 5. Office Visits

Top 5: Midwest

US Midwest
  • 1. Imaging & Radiology
  • 2. Labor & Delivery
  • 3. Diagnostic/Labs
  • 4. Office Visits
  • 5. Weight Loss Surgery

Top 5: Northeast

US Northeast
  • 1. Labor & Delivery
  • 2. Imaging & Radiology
  • 3. Diagnostic/Labs
  • 4. Office Visits
  • 5. Colon Health

Top 5: South

US South
  • 1. Imaging & Radiology
  • 2. Labor & Delivery
  • 3. Weight Loss Surgery
  • 4. Diagnostics/Labs
  • 5. Office Visits

People in the West search for Colon Health
2x more often than anyone else.

According to the CDC, the West has the lowest rates of Colorectal Cancer and Colorectal Cancer-related deaths (except Nevada).

For everything
there is a season.

Including Weight Loss Surgery and Knee Surgery.

People shop for health care more
in summer than any other time.

spring 22% summer 30% fall 28% winter 20%

While some procedures or search terms are big year-round, others become more popular depending on the weather.

Fall Immunizations were 28% higher.
Winter Weight Loss Surgery was 22% higher.
Routine Eye Care was 25% higher.
Spring Colon Health was 13% higher.
Knee Conditions was 15% higher.
Summer Endocrinological conditions (Prostate, Thyroid, Pancreas, Gallbladder, Appendix) were 18% higher.

Age trends:

The Obvious and the Interesting.

The Obvious Age Trends:

Youngest patients (0-16):

(These searches were conducted by parents for their kids.)
  • Ear Conditions
  • Eye Conditions
  • Immunizations
  • Office Visits
  • Throat Conditions


Ages 25-44:

  • Labor & Delivery


Ages 45-54:

  • Colon Health
  • Breast Health

Ages 55+:

(Oh my aching…)
  • Back & Neck
  • Digestive Conditions
  • Endocrinological Conditions
  • Foot
  • Hand
  • Heart Disease & Circulation
  • Hernias
  • Hip
  • Knees
  • Shoulder
  • Urinary Conditions

Age Trends We Found Interesting:

Immunizations Searches are highest for babies to age 24 (not so surprising), then again 55+.
Behavioral & Mental Health Most searches are conducted by people under age 34. 50% of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14, 75% by age 24 (data from NIMH).
Weight-loss Surgery Explored by people ages 35-44. Costs are more seriously searched by ages 45-55.

And now for something completely different.
(And by different we mean funny.)
We give you:

The most humorous,
surprising and outrageous
terms people searched for.

(You’re welcome.)

Talk about a bad day:

Ring Cut Off Finger

Lightning Strike

Human Bite

Tree Fell On Me

Typo Troubles:

Deviated Spectrum
Mormons Neroma
Civil Surgeon Examination
Allegory Test
Shallow Test (is passing good or bad?)
Tummy Tux/Tommy Tux
Message Therapy
Aye Doctor
Legion Removal
Barbaric Surgery (sounds harsh)
Out-Patient Predator
Mommy Makeover
Hyena Repair (no laughing matter)
General Survey
Birch Control
Beast Pump

Dude, Ouch:

Belly Button Removal

Castration (umm…?)

Burn Fallopian Tubes

Ape Rectory


Cat Transplant

Double Vasectomy

Brain Replacement

Head Transplant

Sexual Healing:

Orgasim Shot

Penis Shorting

Premarital Exam

Penial Implant

Pearly Penile Pimples +

Surgical Removal Of Pearly Penile Pimples

The big a-ha’s.

  • People are shopping for both expensive major life events and everyday procedures.
  • People are influenced by the season - and their location - when shopping.
  • We have to help people find the procedure they are looking for - which means we may have to autocorrect typos and misspellings!
  • Shopping behavior is regularly tracking to CDC and other national data, which gives us great confidence in our findings.

We’re using insights from this report
to get smarter about the people using our tools.

Our goals are to:

  1. Dramatically improve adoption of health care shopping tools across the industry.
    • Even though our year-over-year growth in tool usage is impressive at 113% from March 2015 to March 2016, only a small group with access to our cost tools are using them.
  2. Improve the tools we offer - and begin offering new ones - to better meet people's needs.


Interested in learning more?
Email us: PR@HealthSparq.com

2015 Healthcare Shopping Trends