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Members of consumer-driven health plans choosing less care
Date:7/7/2008

mers are considered asymptomatic, meaning discontinuance doesn't spark a quick return of symptoms. Researchers also looked at claims involving symptomatic medications for three other chronic conditions -- asthma, depression and ulcers -- but did not see evidence that these drugs were being discontinued at higher rates in the CDHPs.

Greene and Judith Hibbard, a departmental colleague at the UO, were co-authors on both papers in the peer-reviewed journal that explores current health policy issues. The studies separately examined claims data and survey responses of services offered under health-care plans offered to employees of a large Midwest manufacturer.

Survey data allowed researchers to focus on enrollee behavior in both high- and low-deductible CDHPs and a preferred provider plan. They found that enrollees in high-deductible plans were more likely to engage in risky cost-saving behavior by forgoing doctor's visits to save money. An alarming trend, researchers noted, was that in the second year of the study even some enrollees of a lower-deductible CDHP plan began to postpone or delay medical procedures or to take lower-than-prescribed doses of prescription drugs to save money.

To address these trends, researchers recommend that employers offering CDHPs consider exemptions that would allow employees to get immediate coverage for drugs related to chronic diseases. Uncertainties in federal law regarding which chronic diseases would be allowed under such exemptions need to be revisited by Congress, Greene said.

Researchers also suggest that health-care providers and insurers regularly review claims to pinpoint patients who are forgoing medicine and/or treatment and follow up with alerts to both patients and their physicians about such risky choices.


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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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