High Deductibles Don't Prompt People to Shop for Cheaper Health Care
A study at the University of Southern California has found that increased deductibles – the portion of health care costs an insured person must spend out-of-pocket before the insurance company begins to pay – do not appear to be motivating people to shop for better deals.
The thinking was that high-deductible plans, which are becoming more common, would encourage consumers to comparison shop when seeking health care, since patients are footing a bigger share of the tab. But while these plans have been linked with lower health care spending, previous research suggests the main reason for those savings is that people are choosing not to get as much health care.
The study team surveyed more than 1,900 insured U.S. adults, aged 18 to 64, who used medical care in the last year -- 1,099 with high-deductible plans and 852 in traditional plans.
For the last time they sought medical care, the study found that those with high-deductible plans were no more likely than those with traditional plans to consider going to another health care provider (11 percent versus 10 percent) or to compare out-of-pocket cost differences between health care providers (4 percent versus 3 percent).
In short, people with high deductibles aren't doing much more comparison shopping than people with more traditional health care coverage.
Those in the high-deductible plans were more likely to be white, employed and have higher education and income levels.
Don't miss this week's Slice of History: The 1st Social Security Check.