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High Deductibles Don't Prompt People to Shop for Best Health Care Deal: Study

Instead, they tend to use fewer services to save money, research shows


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Having a high-deductible health insurance plan doesn't mean people will shop around for the best health care prices, a new study finds.

"Simply increasing a deductible, which gives enrollees skin in the game, appears insufficient to facilitate price shopping," Neeraj Sood, of the University of Southern California, and co-authors concluded.

High-deductible plans, which are becoming more common, are thought to 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 reduced use of health care, the researchers noted.

For this study, Sood's 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, 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), the study found.

Those in high-deductible plans were more likely to be white, employed and have higher education and income levels, the researchers said.

The study was published online Jan. 19 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about health insurance.

SOURCE: JAMA Internal Medicine, news release, Jan. 19, 2016
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