Individuals Enrolled in High-Deductible Plans Spend Less on Care
Individuals enrolled in high-deductible health plans spent less on health care than families with lower-deductible coverage, and many reduced their use of preventive health services, according to a study from the RAND Corporation, the Boston Globe reports.
For the study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers looked at claims data for employees of 53 large U.S. companies between 2004 and 2005.
Key Study Findings
Ten million U.S. residents enrolled in high-deductible plans in 2010, a 25% increase over enrollment rates in 2009 and 10 times the number of enrollees in 2005. Consumers enrolled in such plans generally are younger, healthier and more likely to live in areas with higher percentages of college graduates. Researchers adjusted the data to compensate for the differences.
According to the study, families with a deductible of at least $1,000 per person spent about 14% less than families with lower deductibles. In addition, researchers noted that vaccination rates for children declined during the first year their families were covered byÂ high-deductible plans, while rates rose slightly for children in regular plans. The rate of cancer screenings also fell among those in higher-deductible plans.
Study co-author Amelia Haviland said, "Our findings suggest there is a much greater need for communication with individuals about their benefits," noting that the high deductibles might have served as a deterrent to receiving care.
She added that consumers enrolled in high-deductible plans might not have understood information about their coverage benefits (Lazar, Boston Globe, 3/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.