Over the last decade, health care in many parts of the world has shifted toward a more patient-centric, consumeristic model, marked by an emphasis on choice and a proliferation of typical consumer-facing information (e.g. price and quality data). However, while the ‘patients as consumers’ perspective is an apt one, there are crucial differences between health care and typical consumer domains that warrant special consideration by policy-makers and researchers alike. This article discusses some of these differences and explores the challenges that consumers (i.e. patients) face when making trade-offs between price and quality.