Among a survey of physicians,80% say patients have refused or delayed care care due to the cost,and 79% say that HDHPs are to blame.

|

Employers looking to curb the cost of health care may bedeploying more high-deductible health plans (HDHP), but theresulting price concerns may be doing more harm than good, and notjust because of patients delaying care.

|

The Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI) published a new survey this month conducted byNORC at the University of Chicago, which solicited responses frommore than 700 independent physicians who are not currently employedby a hospital or health system. Per the report, the averagedeductible for covered workers has risen 212% between 2008 and2018, with premiums for employer-sponsored insurance increasing by55% during the same period.

|

Related: HDHPs hit those in rural areashardest

|

The added financial responsibility was supposed to makeconsumers more engaged in their health care decisions, but thatjust hasn't been the case. Among the physicians surveyed, 80% saypatients have refused or delayed care care due to the cost, and 79%say that HDHPs are to blame.

|

"High-deductible health plans were supposed to make us betterhealth care consumers, but they have failed," said Donald J.Palmisano, Jr., executive director and chief executive officer ofthe Medical Association of Georgia."They force people attracted bylow premiums to choose between health care and housing, or food.They're an idea that turned out to be bad for both patients anddoctors."

|

While both employers and their employees may have been drawn tothese plans by lower premiums, those choices can generatelong-reaching complications for both patients and doctors.According to the study, "HDHPs increase provider responsibility tocollect patient out-of-pocket payments, explain benefits, and helppatients anticipate costs."

|

According to the survey, physicians are making other changes totheir care recommendations based on a client's financial situation.These include:

  • 66% have changed their decision to prescribe a drug
  • 61% changed the type of medical treatment
  • 86% changed what type of drug they prescribed

Per the report, only 15% of all physicians surveyed feel theyare very prepared to have financial discussions withpatients, while 75% say they don't have the information needed todiscuss the cost of care with patients. Even literature orother informational materials that could help patients makeinformed decisions may be in short supply, and just 40% ofphysicians offer tools to help patients understand costs.

|

As a result of the uncertainty around costs, physicians may bechanging their treatment approach while patients could be negatingor postponing health care treatment altogether. The surveyindicates that 52% of physicians surveyed often change which drugsthey prescribe due to patient cost concerns, while 44% said thatthey sometimes change the type of treatment provided for the samereason.

|

When asked in their opinion how often patients refused ordelayed treatment due to cost concerns, 20% of physicians surveyedsaid "often" and 60% indicated "sometimes." When patients do opt togo ahead with treatment, recovering the payment can becomechallenging for providers. Among physicians surveyed, more than 40%said it takes 60 days or more to receive a payment.

|

"Before COVID-19, patients had to delay or forego medical caredue to the financial challenge of satisfying their insurance plan'shigh deductible," Kelly Kenney, chief executive officer of thePhysicians Advocacy Institute said in a press release. "Thepandemic has made it clear that making patients wholly responsiblefor thousands of dollars their insurance plan used to coverbenefits no one but insurers."

|

Read more: 

 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Frank Ready

Frank Ready is a reporter on the tech desk at ALM Media. He can be reached at [email protected].