High-deductible health plans reduce healthcare cost and use, including use of needed preventive service

Added May 9, 2020

Citation: Agarwal R, Mazurenko O, Menachemi N. High-deductible health plans reduce health care cost and utilization, including use of needed preventive services. Health Affairs 2017; 36: 1762–8

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What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services and resources. Existing research on strategies intended to reduce healthcare costs may provide useful information for policy makers.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research on the impact of high-deductible health plans on healthcare use and costs. They restricted their search to articles published in English and did the search in January 2017. They included 28 studies comparing high-deductible plans to traditional health plans, with outcome measures including healthcare use and spending for any health care setting.

What was found:  High-deductible health plans were associated with lower healthcare costs due to a reduction in the use of health services, including the use of both appropriate and necessary care, and increased cost-sharing (out-of-pocket spending by patients).

High-deductible health plans were associated with a significant reduction in the use of preventive services, medication adherence and office visits.

The effects of high-deductible health plans on outcomes for low-income or chronically ill patients are uncertain.


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