Fewer people think a financial incentive would be useful forelecting more effective treatment, according to the Employee Benefit ResearchInstitute. The percentage fell from 61 percent in 2009 to 55percent in 2010.

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Still, research shows, young people, minorities and low-wageworkers are still more likely to find financial incentivesextremely or very useful..

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There was no significant difference between women and men and nodifference found in education level.

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"There is a distinct difference between the attitudes of youngerand older consumers as it relates to the impact of financialincentives to steer behavior," said Paul Fronstin, director ofEBRI's Health Research and Education Program and author of thereport. "And this study gives us the opportunity to track thetrends of how each demographic is feeling about the usefulness ofcertain incentives offered to them."

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The data is based on the EBRI/MGA 2010 Health Confidence Surveyto examine whether health care consumers would be interested in, ormight find useful, financial incentives that are aimed at changingan individual's health behavior.

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Among the findings in the report:

  • Demographics: Younger individuals were morelikely than older ones to report that incentives to choose the mosteffective treatment would be extremely or very useful.Sixty-twopercent of persons under age 45 reported that they would findincentives useful, compared with 52 percent of 45-64 year olds and41 percent of individuals age 65 and older.
  • Health Status: Among those who reported thattheir health status had gotten worse during the past five years,about 18 percent reported that they did not think that a lowercost-sharing incentive to choose more effective treatments would beuseful. In contrast, about 9 percent of individuals whose healthstatus had gotten better in the last five years did not think thata lower cost-sharing incentive to choose more effective treatmentswould be useful.
  • Health Costs: Individuals who reported thatthey had not experienced an increase in either premiums or costsharing were more likely than those who had to report that lowercost sharing would not be a useful incentive to choose a moreeffective treatment.

Similarly, those experiencing a cost increase were more likelythan those who had not to report that they would be interested inlower cost sharing as it relates to using a limited network ofhigh-quality providers.

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