Friday, April 5, 2013

Fwd: qotd: Consumer-directed enrollees do not shop prices

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Consumer-directed enrollees do not shop prices
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2013 10:45:08 -0700
From: Don McCanne <>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <>

Forum for Health Economics and Policy
Published online March 20, 2013
Price Shopping in Consumer-Directed Health Plans
By Neeraj Sood, Zachary Wagner, Peter Huckfeldt, Amelia M. Haviland


We use health insurance claims data from 63 large employers to estimate
the extent of price shopping for nine common outpatient services in
consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) compared to traditional health
plans. The main measures of price shopping include (1) the total price
paid on the claim, (2) the share of claims from low- and high-cost
providers, and (3) the savings from price shopping relative to choosing
prices randomly. All analyses control for individual and zip code level
demographics and plan characteristics. We also estimate differences in
price shopping within CDHPs depending on expected health care costs and
whether the service was bought before or after reaching the deductible.
For eight out of nine services analyzed, prices paid by CDHP and
traditional plan enrollees did not differ significantly; CDHP enrollees
paid 2.3% less for office visits. Similarly, office visits was the only
service where CDHP enrollment resulted in a significantly larger share
of claims from low-cost providers and greater savings from price
shopping relative to traditional plans. There was also no evidence that,
within CDHP plans, consumers with lower expected medical expenses
exhibited more price shopping or that consumers exhibited more price
shopping before reaching the deductible.

The full article can be downloaded at this link (19 pages):

Comment: High-deductible consumer-directed health plans are designed to
make health care consumers better price shoppers, especially when they
are spending their own money below the deductible. Guess what. Health
care consumers do not shop prices to any measurable extent.

We should quite wasting our time looking for magical solutions to
controlling health care costs and move on with health care reform that
has been proven to work - a single payer national health program, an
improved Medicare for all.

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