November 30, 2006


Half in New Health Plans Want to Switch, Poll Shows (Christopher Lee, 11/30/06, Washington Post)

The survey of 1,389 people by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that 71 percent of those in the new "consumer-directed health plans" said the policies prompted them to consider cost when seeking health care, compared with 49 percent of those with more traditional employer-sponsored coverage.

For instance, people in the new plans were more likely to ask about the cost of a doctor's visit and inquire about the availability of lower-cost alternatives in treatments and tests. More than half, 55 percent, who sought care said the new plans have changed their approach to using health care.

Such findings are in line with assertions by the Bush administration and other advocates who say that the new plans will check spiraling health-care spending by giving consumers a financial incentive to shop around for the best care at a reasonable price -- and to get only the care they need.

"It's a cultural shift," said Devon Herrick, a health economist at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas. "When you go to Wal-Mart you don't have to ask about price -- it's right there next to the good or service you are buying. Health care is not there yet, but it's getting that way. This is the early stages. We have the incentives to get people more responsible and asking about price."

In contrast with other plans that typically require $15 or $20 co-payments for visits to the doctor, the new plans can require consumers to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars of their own money for medications, physicians' services and hospital care before most coverage kicks in. The plans have high annual deductibles, but their premiums tend to be lower.

Meanwhile, the Right frets about a few nickels and dimes on the prescription plan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2006 11:47 AM

Not all health care consumers have a choice. Our doctor has just informed her patients that as of the first of the year, her practice will be limited to those patients who pay an annual membership fee of $1,400.00 which does not cover any medical services. She will continue to file Medicare and other insurance claims.

Quite a few other private practitioners in this area (central Florida) are doing the same as they can't survive on the Medicare approved payments they currently receive. I can't blame her. She has a service to sell and as long as there are buyers, she should maximize her income just like any other entrepreneur would.

Posted by: erp at November 30, 2006 3:25 PM

BUT - I thoink you'll have more access and more time w/her.

I've read some are charging $15K/y, unlimited access and time spent.

The new status symbol, personal Dr. on call and maybe even house calls.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 30, 2006 3:54 PM

Sandy, yes perhaps in the beginning, but things will quickly find their new level and we'll be paying more for less and less. If this becomes wide-spread, HMO's will benefit by being the only game in town and they'll provide even worse service (if that's even possible).

Posted by: erp at November 30, 2006 4:32 PM

"the Right frets about a few nickels and dimes on the prescription plan" And those precious nickels and dimes are less than projected. The Right stays home and got the Dems elected. And Hillary couldn't wait to declare that some people would be surprised the come back of the health care issue, and the Dems are preparing to clamp down the health care cost by imposing price control on Big Pharmas.

Posted by: ic at November 30, 2006 5:21 PM


Choice is bad if it doesn't cost you anything.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2006 6:09 PM