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Special Feature: Consumer Directed Plans and Health Care Costs

November 23, 2012

Special Feature: Consumer Directed Plans and Health Care Costs

Source: RAND Corporation

Advocates of consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) contend that consumers in such plans will have a greater incentive to make prudent, cost-conscious decisions about using health care, which in turn should drive down overall health care costs. Critics, however, have voiced concerns that consumers lack the information necessary to reduce spending without also reducing quality of care. RAND Health researchers compared families before and after moving to a consumer-directed plan with similar families remaining in traditional plans to see how behaviors change in response to switching to a high-deductible plan.

In the most comprehensive study to date on this topic, researchers looked at claims and enrollment data for more than 800,000 households insured through 59 large employers across the U.S. in a study funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The analysis shows clear cost reductions, but with potential areas of concern for the long-term health of enrollees.

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