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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: High-deductible Health Plans Don’t Boost Price Shopping

Consumers with high-deductible health plans do not appear to be more motivated to shop around for less expensive, higher quality medical care than those with lower-deductible plans, according to a study by Dr. Anna Sinaiko, research scientist in the department of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues.

The findings were published online in a research letter January 19 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

It has been thought that consumers paying more of their own money for health care – or having “skin in the game,” as the authors described it – would want to shop around. However, the authors’ Internet survey of about 2,000 adults with either high-deductible or lower-deductible health plans found only about 10 percent of those in each group reported considering other doctors the last time they purchased medical care. Only about 4 percent compared costs.

“Simply increasing a deductible, which gives enrollees skin in the game, appears insufficient to facilitate price shopping,” the authors wrote. The authors found a need for “greater availability of price information” and “innovative approaches” to make information easier for consumers to use. Read more