Abstract Objective To assess the extent of consumer use of publicly released hospital performance information by the National Health Evaluation Program (HEP) in Korea. Design A questionnaire survey with 385 outpatients visiting four general hospitals in Seoul. Main outcome measures The consumer use of performance information was assessed by the consumers’ intention to: (1) recommend hospitals with good performance reports, according to HEP, to their relatives; (2) switch to other hospitals with a better performance and (3) keep the performance report for future use. Results Overall, 52–75% of the respondents expressed their intention to use the hospital performance information. Logistic regression analysis results showed that people would use the performance information if they considered HEP to be effective in improving the quality of health care and the performance reports to be trustworthy and useful in choosing hospitals. Conclusion This study provides evidence that consumers in a health care system with few restrictions for provider choice, such as in Korea, have a high potential to utilize the provider performance information in their decision making. If public use of the performance information becomes common, policy makers should acknowledge the critical value of the quality of the performance report in order to avoid misleading consumers.