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Men cut back on needed health care after switching to high-deductible insurance plans
Date:7/16/2013

including a 27 percent reduction in low-severity visits. However, for women there was no decrease in visits for more severe problems.

Leading to Higher Hospitalization Rates Later On

Men also had a dramatic 24 percent reduction in hospitalizations during their first year in an HDHP. However, this trend was completely reversed the following year, when hospital admissions increased by 30 percent. The trends suggest that men might have put off needed care after their deductible went upleading to more severe illness requiring hospital care later on.

High-deductible plans are an increasingly popular way to "incentivize members to reduce inappropriate health care"such as going to the emergency room for less-severe problems"while maintaining appropriate use of preventive and necessary services." The new study is one of the first to look at possible gender differences in responses to HDHPs.

"In our study, the HDHP seemed to act as a 'blunt instrument' among men, reducing care across the boardemergency visits across all severity levels and hospital care in the year following transition to an HDHP," according to Dr Kozhimannil. "In contrast, women seemed to respond to the HDHP largely as intended, maintaining stable rates of intermediate and high severity care and limiting reductions in ED utilization to low severity visits."

The study raises concerns about some possible unintended consequences of HDHPsespecially among men, who may delay or reduce necessary care when out-of-pocket costs go up. Dr Kozhimannil and coauthors suggest that health plans and employers may want to develop educational programs to inform HDHP members about their benefits, and the risks of avoiding needed care because of costs. They add, "Employers that primarily hire men might want to carefully consider whether HDHPs are the optimal choice of coverage."

"As a clinician, our results weren't highly surprising because I often see men hesitant t
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Contact: Connie Hughes
connie.hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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