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"Choice" in Health Care: What Do People Really Want?

Proposals to expand the individual health insurance market and promote health savings accounts are intended to provide consumers with more "choice." The types of choices people prefer, however, are not well understood. This analysis of survey data finds that having a choice of health care providers matters more to people than having a choice of health plans. Dissatisfaction among adults with no choice of providers was more than twice as high as among those with no choice of plan. Moreover, a large majority of Americans who have had experience with employer-based health insurance believe that employers do a good job of selecting quality plans. Two of three preferred an employer-selected set of plans over an employer-funded account that they would use to find coverage on their own. Thus, policymakers should be cautious about embracing the individual market and health savings accounts as a way to improve satisfaction in the system.

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"Choice" in Health Care: What Do People Really Want? Jeanne M. Lambrew, Ph.D., The Commonwealth Fund, September 2005