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Educate individuals to prevent sky-rocketing health care costs
Date:4/7/2010

BOSTON (5:00 p.m. EDT, April 7, 2010) Educating individuals about the costs of healthcare could save money and lead to a more efficient use of the healthcare system, report policy researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health. The study is the first to assess the effect of knowledge and perceptions of cost-sharing levels (the percentage of cost borne by individuals out of total healthcare costs) on self-reported and actual behavior. The study points to a need to examine how changes to cost-sharing might change consumer behavior to contain costs while still getting appropriate care.

Employers increase healthcare costs to employees partly to reduce their own costs and partly to motivate employees to use the healthcare system in a more cost-efficient way. The researchers wanted to identify how changing the cost-sharing levels affected how employees used the healthcare system. The study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, found an association between the employees who were more informed about overall healthcare costs and their higher ratio of office visits to emergency room visits, when compared with the visit ratio of other employees who were less informed

"We know how much electricity costs us and we know how much our groceries cost, but, as patients, costs of our healthcare remain vague. As patients, we know that we might have a co-payment but we rarely know the underlying costs or the differences in costs depending on our utilization of the healthcare system. The complexity of the medical and billing systems have prevented consumers from understanding how best to utilize healthcare options to contain costs," said Amy Lischko, DSc, assistant professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

"Respondents who were more informed about their specific copayments for office visits and emergency room visits were more l
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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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