Reporting of Health Data Has Slim Effect on Market
Current data on consumer-driven heatlh care models raise questions about whether releasing information on the costs and quality of health care will "compel patients to act more like thrift-minded consumers whose clout will restrain price inflation and boost service quality," the Oregonian reports.
According to the Oregonian, "Employers and other big purchasers of health care expect much from an injection of consumerism into the market for health services," but "even the most ardent advocates acknowledge that consumer-directed health care still has far to go before delivering its hoped-for results."
National surveys indicate that most people are not aware of quality comparison report cards, and where employers or states have established detailed hospital and physician report cards, "the market impact has been minimal," the Oregonian reports. Among people who are familiar with report cards and ratings, "confusion and distrust are rampant," according to the Oregonian. Surveys also have found that most people prefer the advice of friends, family and personal physicians over published information or government sources.
In addition, surveys by Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the Employee Benefits Research Institute and the Commonwealth Fund found that people enrolled in high-deductible health plans are no more cost-conscious than others, the Oregonian reports. According to Lynne-Marie Crider -- a public policy specialist with the Service Employees International Union Local 49 in Portland, Ore. -- even the most well-informed consumer will lack market clout to pressure providers to cut costs or improve quality.
Crider said, "In most communities, there is only one hospital, so purchasers cannot reward hospitals that control costs or improve quality and punish poor quality or high cost." She added that much of the decision making is left up to businesses and government programs that cover people through their health plans (Rojas-Burke, Oregonian, 1/2).