A Collaborative Effort: Facilitating Financial Well-being through an Understanding of Healthcare Pricing and Consumer Financial Decision Making

Statement of Problem, Marketing and Policy Implications, and Transformative Potential

With the pervasiveness of healthcare, as an indispensable service, a societal institution, and a subject of contemporary legislative/public policy attention (i.e., Affordable Care Act), there has never been a more important time for researchers and practitioners to collaboratively address the many theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues which abound. Although health and physical well-being have both been the object of researchers’ past attention (e.g., Block et al. 2011; Scammon et al. 2011), this novel track will focus squarely upon pricing and financial issues, and their respective implications, within the healthcare industry.

Despite healthcare’s designation as “A Fertile Field for Service Research” (Berry and Bendapudi 2007), relatively few studies exist on consumers’ healthcare financial decision making and their public policy implications for price transparency, as well as price/branding issues (e.g., Kemp, Jillapalli, and Becerra 2014). Nearly two-thirds of U.S. bankruptcies are related to debt incurred during periods of illness; 69% of these bankruptcies were from individuals insured at the time of their filing (Brill 2013). Despite increasing financial obligations for consumers, such as co-pays, deductibles, and premiums, healthcare is not considered to be a “major” financial purchase (i.e., $500 or greater). Further compounding this dilemma, a mere 56% of Americans have sought general healthcare pricing information (33% have attempted to find the price for one provider and 21% have attempted to compare prices across multiple providers; Schelifer, Hagelskamp, and Rinehart 2014), while over 90% of consumers exhibit these same behaviors for other categories of consumer goods and/or services.

Economically, prices for services, including healthcare, should be aligned with firm costs, marketplace forces (i.e., competition), and the quality of the service; preliminary empirical inquiries have found weak relationships between healthcare price and these factors. Furthermore, the cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities inherent within healthcare decisions make understanding the theoretical, methodological, and substantive challenges imperative, because of the potential for positive financial outcomes for consumers and/or the development of positive firm and societal externalities (i.e., increased efficiency within a core institution). Finally, by untangling the nature of healthcare brands (i.e., price-quality relationship), consumers may make more effective decisions when selecting their care. Each of these will allow marketing, public policy, and healthcare researchers, in conjunction with healthcare practitioners (i.e., physicians, nurses, administrators), to transform the consumer healthcare consumption experience and safeguard financial well-being.

Goal of Track 

To stimulate and propel the dialogue, through a substantial conceptual contribution, of how researchers and practitioners within the academic/legal, healthcare, public policy, and transformative consumer research communities may successfully address the barriers to consumers’ effective healthcare financial decisions. Additionally, to identify and advocate for the transparency of healthcare pricing and the facilitation of consumer fluency in optimizing available information. A conceptual article, derived from these advancements, will be submitted to the TCR special issue in Journal of Business Research.

Track Structure and Schedule 


Collaborators, establishment of common knowledge base, and preliminary conceptual framework.

  1. A diverse array of collaborators (co-chairs and participants) will be compiled to optimize the yield of both the track theme (relational engagement to escalate societal impact) and track subject matter (healthcare pricing and financial decision making). Diversity of the track’s disciplines, careers (i.e., academic, healthcare practitioners, healthcare administrators), career stages, methodologies, and epistemological purviews is encouraged. Collaborators with either shown prior interest or viable theoretical, methodological, or substantive insights into the track’s content will be selected. The track will be comprised of approximately eight to ten (8 – 10) collaborators, including the three (3) co-chairs (Joshua Dorsey, Jerome Williams, Jesse Catlin).
  2. Establish a common base of healthcare pricing and decision making knowledge through the dissemination of key articles, from track co-chairs. Additionally, participants will be encouraged to recommend up to two articles, from their personal scholarly contribution or otherwise, which may contribute to the development of the conceptual framework.
  3. Collaborators from the healthcare industry will be recruited to assist in the identification and reconciliation of conceptual and practical healthcare price/financial issues.
  4. In addition to a listserv for the track, the digital collaboration resource, Trello, will be used to share biographies/background information, distribute pertinent information, and establish the core components of a preliminary framework to be used at the conference.

During conference:

Targeted, but exploratory discourse including researchers, healthcare practitioners (i.e., nurses, physicians), and healthcare administrators.

Conference Day One (Monday, 6.19.2017)

  1. Morning Session (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.): The initial session will open with brief introductions. Subsequently, collaborators, including industry contributors, will engage in a catalytic discourse serving the following objectives: verify the common base of knowledge, identify and reconcile areas of divergence within the core areas of the conceptual framework, broach ideas for additional redress or opportunity for contribution. To be clear, unique, even idiosyncratic, thoughts, ideas, and perspectives are expected/encouraged. However, the initial session is intended to bring collaborators to a shared understanding of the purpose, scope, and information.
  2. Afternoon Session (2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): This session will be used to develop the preliminary conceptual framework and to move towards in-depth discourse regarding the following: barriers to effective consumer financial decision making in the healthcare industry, merits (or demerits) of price transparency within the healthcare industry, the effects of healthcare pricing/financial decisions on consumer financial well-being, the role of marketing (and other academic disciplines) in facilitating transparency and decision making, the role of executive compensation and pharmaceutical pricing in industry perceptions, socioeconomic and racial considerations within the healthcare industry, legislative considerations/influences, implications for public policy, recommendations for researchers and practitioners (e.g., areas in need of current/future attention, theoretical and methodological considerations, areas for potential substantive improvement). Posters will be used to organize the framework, as well as other key developments from the day’s session. The theme of the track, relational engagement, will be emphasized strongly. Input from all collaborators is essential during this session.

Conference Day Two (Tuesday, 6.20.2017)

  1. Morning Session (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.): Yield from the prior day’s sessions will be leveraged to distinguish, reinforce, and aggregate the core components (i.e., framework, theoretical underpinning, primary contribution, public policy recommendations, considerations for future research, and potential substantive changes to the healthcare industry) of a scholarly article. After revisions, results from the track’s sessions will be submitted to a special issue of Journal of Business Research. The outline of this article will be distributed prior to the conclusion of this session; moreover, collaborators will allocate portions of the article, based upon expressed competencies, to refine and develop post-conference.

Post-conference: Continued article maturation, article submission and revision

  1. Collaborators will, guided by the track’s co-chairs, contribute to and submit a conceptual article. Care will be taken to ensure that the article achieves collective objectives, while meeting the publication standards of JBR. If interest in empirical research persists, track collaborators are encouraged to develop a set of articles which continues the ideas generated from the initial conceptual work.


Joshua D. Dorsey

West Virginia University

Jerome Williams

Rutgers University

Jesse Catlin

California State University, Sacramento

Paul Hill

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

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  1. Berry, Leonard and Neeli Bendapudi (2007). Healthcare: A Fertile Field for Service Research. Journal of Services Research, 10 (2), 111-122.
  2. Block, Lauren G. Sonya A. Grier, Terry L. Childers, Brennan Davis, Jane E.J. Ebert, Shiriki Kumanyika, Russell N. Laczniak, Jane E. Machin, Carol M. Motley, Laura Peracchio, Simone Pettigrew, Maura Scott, Mirjam N.G. van Ginkel Bieshaar (2011). From Nutrients to Nurturance: A Conceptual Introduction to Food Well-Being. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 30 (1), 5-13.
  3. Kemp, Elyria, Ravi Jillapalli, and Enrique Becerra (2014). Healthcare Branding: Developing Emotionally Based Consumer Brand Relationships. Journal of Services Marketing, 28 (2), 126 – 137.
  4. Scammon, Debra L., Punam A. Keller, Pia A. Albinsson, Shalini Bahl, Jesse R. Catlin, Kelly L. Haws, Jeremy Kees, Tracey King, Elizabeth Gelfand Miller, Ann M. Mirabito, Paula C. Peter, and Robert M. Schindler (2011). Transforming Consumer Health. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 30 (1), 14-22.
  5. Schleifer, David, Carol Hagelskamp, and Chloe Rinehart (2015). How Much Will It Cost? How Americans Use Prices in Health Care. Public Agenda and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, March, 1-50.