Navigation Links
Study finds consumers may have more control over health costs than previously thought
Date:9/29/2011

The historic RAND Health Insurance Experiment found that patients had little or no control over their health care spending once they began to receive a physician's care, but a new study shows that this has changed for those enrolled in consumer-directed health plans.

Patients with health coverage that includes a high deductible and either a health savings account or a health reimbursement arrangement reduced their costs even after they initiated care.

Overall, the study found about two thirds of the reduction in total health care costs was from patients initiating care less often and the remaining third was from a reduction in costs after care is initiated. The findings were published online by the journal Forum for Health Economics and Policy.

"Unlike earlier time periods, it seems that today's consumers can have greater influence on the level and mix of medical services provided once they begin to receive medical care," said Amelia Haviland, the study's lead author and a senior statistician at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. "We found that at least part of the savings in cost per episode reflects choices for less-costly treatments and products, not just a reduction in the number of services."

Researchers from RAND, Towers Watson and the University of Southern California examined the claims experience of many large employers in the United States to determine how consumer-directed health plans and other high-deductible plans can reduce health care costs. The study was funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to Haviland, at least three factors influenced the cost of care once the patient had initiated care: lower use of name-brand medications, less in-patient care and lower use of specialists. Researchers speculate that patients may talk to their doctors about their higher deductibles and ask them to help keep costs low.

"It is not surprising that deductibles of $1,000 or more reduced health care consumption, but we found that savings occurred even when employers helped employees offset these out-of-pocket costs by making contributions to their accounts," said Roland McDevitt, a study co-author and director of health research at Towers Watson, a human resource and employee benefits consultancy. "This was true for both health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements."

Health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts create different incentives for employees. Health reimbursement arrangements allow employers to pay for qualified medical expenses, including those that fall under the deductible. These payments or reimbursements are excluded from the taxable income of the employee. Unused portions may roll over at the end of the year, but any account balance is owned by the employer and employees generally forfeit the account balance if they leave the employer before retirement.

Health savings accounts create a stronger incentive for employees to manage their health care costs, because the employee owns the account. This type of account was shown to have the largest impact on cost reductions. It can earn interest and it follows employees when they change jobs.

Health savings account contributions are only allowed for those enrolled in high-deductible health plans as defined by law, but account balances may be used for qualified medical expenses at any time. The minimum health savings account deductibles for 2011 are $1,200 for single coverage and $2,400 for family coverage.

The study found that both the level of the deductible and the level of the employer account contributions influence the extent of savings. Higher deductibles of $1,000 or more together with employer account contributions of less than half the deductible produced the greatest cost reductions.

"It is clear that high-deductible health plans with personal medical accounts produce overall health care cost savings and not simply a cost shift," said co-author Neeraj Sood, associate professor at the Schaeffer Center for Health Economics and Policy at USC and a RAND economist. "This is mostly due to patients initiating less care, but a full third of the reduction is due to shifts in the mix of care they are receiving."

The authors cautioned that there was some reduction in the rate of cancer screenings and childhood immunizations during the first year of enrollment in a high-deductible plan. They found this first-year effect was relatively small, but expressed concern about the early trend. They say more research is needed to determine the extent to which these cost reductions come at a price of forgoing necessary medical care.


'/>"/>

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

Related medicine news :

1. Easily embarrassed? Study finds people will trust you more
2. Stanford brain imaging study shows physiological basis of dyslexia
3. University of Missouri study finds risk factors for cat cancer, could have human implications
4. Teens With Lots of Friends More Likely to Start Drinking: Study
5. Study Suggests Link Between Sleep Deprivation, Alzheimers Risk
6. NIH modifies VOICE HIV prevention study in women
7. Study shows link between smoking and chronic pain in women
8. European Journal of Heart Failure publishes new randomized controlled clinical study of RESPeRATE
9. Teen Drinking Most Influenced by Friends of Friends: Study
10. End-of-life discussions do not affect survival rates, study shows
11. Saw Palmetto Doesnt Help Enlarged Prostate: Study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, A Forever Recovery, a ... and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where the rehabilitation facility is ... to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and other breakfast foods. Its ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... health policy issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, ... work on several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his ... David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps ... in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may ... to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To ... for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda Cheng, an ... Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including robotic Suresmile ... orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. It can ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... June 27, 2016 Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: ... under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as ... Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Celator"; Nasdaq: CPXX ) ... Daylight Time). As previously announced on May ... definitive merger agreement under which Jazz Pharmaceuticals has commenced ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016  Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT) (NASDAQ: ... novel therapeutics for the treatment of grievous blood-based ... closing of its previously announced underwritten public offering ... public offering price of $18.75 per share. All ... by GBT. GBT estimates net proceeds from the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: DHRM ... sells medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory products in ... agreement with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., Ltd. (hereinafter ... 2016, to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical technology business. ... leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to reach Dehaier,s ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: