High deductibles don't encourage price-shopping, study finds

Price-shopping is not something most Americans with high-deductible health plans do, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Four things to know:

1. The study, led by Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, a research scientist in the Center for Clinical Management Research at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor (Mich.) Healthcare System and assistant internal medicine professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, analyzed data from 1,637 Americans with HDHPs.

2. Study authors found about 84 percent of Americans in HDHPs were both employed and received health insurance through an employer. About half, or 42.4 percent, had at least one chronic condition. The researchers oversampled individuals with common chronic conditions due to the barriers they face related to cost.

3. Among HDHP enrollees sampled, saving for future healthcare services was the most widespread consumer behavior the researchers documented. About 25 percent of enrollees talked with a provider about how much a service would cost. Only 14.4 percent price-shopped for a service at a different place, while 14 percent compared quality information across providers. Just 6.5 percent tried to negotiate a price for a service.

4. "We found that few Americans in HDHPs are engaging in consumer behaviors that could help them get the healthcare they need at a price they can afford," the researchers said. Health insurer- and provider-developed programs that help members and patients understand price "will become increasingly important as enrollment in HDHPs continues to grow, and they could become essential if efforts to modify the ACA accelerate patients' exposure to high cost sharing," they said.

For the full Health Affairs study, click here.

More articles on payers:
Oscar Health's telemedicine use 5 times greater than health insurance average
Older adults drawn to short-term health plans due to cost, survey finds
Breast cancer care delayed for women in high-deductible plans, study finds

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