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Largest study of high-deductible health plans finds savings, less preventive care
Date:3/24/2011

and said. "These cutbacks could cause a spike in health care costs down the road if people end up sicker and need more-intensive treatment."

The drop in preventive care happened even though high-deductible plans waive the need to pay a deductible when receiving such care. This suggests that enrollees in high-deductible plans either did not understand this part of their policy or some other factor discouraged them from getting preventive care, Haviland said.

The finding about preventive care has implications for adoption of national health care reform in the United States. Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health plan deductibles must be waived for preventive treatments. Researchers said the new study suggests that this fact must be clearly communicated to the public to meet the goal of increasing the level of preventive care received by Americans.

Haviland said that although the RAND study is the largest study of high-deductible plans to date, it only tracks family experiences over the first year of enrollment. Different patterns may emerge in subsequent years.

"There's general agreement that the U.S. health care system needs something that reduces costs and maintains quality," Haviland said. "We found that at least in the short run, high-deductible health plans are providing the desired reduction in costs. But they are also discouraging families from getting the preventive care they need."


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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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