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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.

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Publication Details

Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Author: Karen Davis

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


Professor Emerita in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health