Tag Archives: high-deductible health plans

Report suggests applying value-based insurance design to high-deductible health plans

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image by Dan Simpson via flickr.

Image by Dan Simpson via flickr.

For years, health policy experts have asked whether high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) cause some patients to forego needed medical care. Rather than pay their high deductibles, these patients postpone visits to doctors or don’t get other necessary care, policy experts argue.

Now, researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID), Harvard University Medical School and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota suggest in a new report that the IRS should expand its definition of preventive services so that employers and health plans can structure incentives under HDHPs so that patients would not sacrifice necessary services. Changing the definition of preventive services would allow patients with chronic conditions to access more covered care, called secondary preventive services, just as insurers cover primary preventive-care services under the Affordable Care Act, meaning no charges, copayments or deductibles.

In a report released today, the researchers said millions of Americans in HSA-qualified HDHPs could benefit from expanded coverage of preventive services. The report was funded by the Gary and Mary West Policy Center. Among the researchers who prepared the report were A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., the director of the VBID center and professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan; Michael E. Chernew, Ph.D., Leonard D. Schaeffer professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School; and Stephen T. Parente, Ph.D., Minnesota insurance industry professor of health finance and insurance in the Department of Finance in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Continue reading

Studies raise questions about medical care in high-deductible health plans

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image by Tax Credits via flickr.

In August, we reported on two surveys of employers that showed a movement toward less comprehensive health insurance. More employers were offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), the surveys showed.

Then researchers in Medical Care and Health Affairs reported that men and people of low socioeconomic status enrolled in HDHPs tend to forego health care. In other words, the research published in both journals raised anew the question of whether less comprehensive coverage led to less medical care.

As Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli reported in American Medical News, “For men enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans, serious events such as a kidney stone or chest pain might not be enough for them to seek emergency care, according to a study in the August issue of the journal Medical Care.” She noted that 34 percent of workers today have a deductible of $1,000 or higher. Continue reading