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The authors caution that more research is needed to understand the relationship between HDHPs and patient outcomes, especially with regard to the impact of social determinants of health.

High-deductible health plans and other increased cost-sharing strategies were supposed to make consumers become more involved in and aware of their health care decisions. While the wealth of data thus far has shown that hasn’t been the case, there are still some indicators that in some cases, at least, HPDPs have had their intended effect.

A recent study from the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation found that while HDHPs led to consumers cutting health care use, spending on outpatient health care services considered “low-value” decreased more significantly than the overall decrease in spending. Overall, the study found that spending on low-value services decreased by $6.40 per person on outpatient care, $5.70 for imaging services, and $2.56 for lab services.

“This work provides evidence, for the first time, that high deductible plans cause working-age employees to reduce spending for low-value care disproportionately relative to overall spending reductions,” the authors note. “Results also suggest that these patients are not simply shopping for better prices on care that provides little benefit, but are reducing use of low-value care specifically.”

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is managing editor at BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she spent the past eight years writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.

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