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Will Consumer-Directed Health Care Improve System Performance?

Consumer-directed health care plans have attracted attention as a method for managing rising health care spending by giving consumers greater financial control over their health care. However, increased cost-sharing—the principal tool used by these plans to achieve lower spending—may also cause patients to consume less care, even when that care is essential. Research studies have found that lower-income individuals and those with serious health concerns will particularly be at risk, as these consumers bear the burden of higher out-of-pocket costs. Instead of focusing solely on financial incentives, the real goal should be to encourage quality and efficiency among health systems, physicians, and hospitals.

Click here to browse a special Health Services Research theme issue on consumer-directed health care.


Publication Details



Will Consumer-Directed Health Care Improve System Performance?, Karen Davis, Ph.D., The Commonwealth Fund, August 2004