Study critical of consumer-driven health

Aug. 20, 2004 at 12:02 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. study said consumer directed health plans are not effective in curbing healthcare costs and could even worsen patient outcomes.

Consumer directed healthcare, often characterized by high deductible insurance plans coupled with tax-free health savings accounts, have been cited as an answer to reducing health cost increases, but a study from the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund said care management programs for high-cost patients would be a more effective alternative.

Ten percent of individuals account for 69 percent of healthcare costs, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said in a statement, and consumer driven plans lack elements that would promote high-quality care, reward providers administering this care, and effectively manage care for patients.

While these plans are designed to reduce unnecessary care, necessary care also could be reduced, Davis noted.

To reduce healthcare costs, Davis suggested other alternatives, such as publicly reporting cost and quality data, investing in information technology, developing performance guidelines, and rewarding high-quality performance.

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