… but does this behavior mean lower health care costs and is the focus on the real problem?
Anyone who reads my blog posts knows I am not a big fan of so-called consumer driven health care, mainly because I do not believe that when it comes to serious and costly health care we mortals are capable of dispassionate decision-making. Rather, I favor fundamental changes to the health care deliver system to achieve the same results based on providing effective and efficient health care.
A new survey indicates some moderate self-reported changes in behavior. Whether or not such behavior is effective long-term cost control remains to be seen. Here is a sample survey results of what I would consider the most significant measures based on the type of plan in which participants are enrolled:
Check quality measures: All plans 27%
Talked to doctor about treatment options:Traditional plan: 33% HDHP: 39% CDHP (with HSA or HRA): 36%
We should not assume that asking questions or making inquiries automatically transfers into changed behavior, especial behavior affecting the cost of health care. While a significant difference in out-of-pocket costs may result in higher generic drug use, checking a price before getting a service (even if that were really possible) does not mean the service was not provided or change in provider made. Consumerism makes good copy, however I continue to be a skeptic when it comes to truly managing costs or assuring higher quality care.
WASHINGTON—Individuals in so-called “consumer-driven” health plans are more likely than those with traditional coverage to exhibit a number of cost-conscious behaviors, according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
The combination of a tax-preferred savings or spending account with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is commonly referred to as a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP). These account-based health plans include either a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).
According to the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, those in CDHPs were more likely to say that they had checked whether their plan would cover care; asked for a generic drug instead of a brand name drug; talked to their doctor about treatment options and costs; talked to their doctor about prescription drug options and costs; developed a budget to manage health care expenses; checked a price of service before getting care; and used an online cost-tracking tool.
The data come from the December 2011 EBRI Issue Brief, “Findings From the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey,” online at http://www.ebri.org
- Health Savings Accounts continue to grow – EBRI (quinnscommentary.com)