Question: If I asked you to point to the most obvious examples of wasteful health care spending, where would you direct me? This is a no brainer. There is nothing more wasteful than first-dollar health insurance coverage. Even deductibles as low as $1,000 or $1,500 are incredibly wasteful in many places. By that I mean that if you choose a higher deductible, the premium savings is greater than the additional expense you are exposed to. That means you can put some of the premium savings in the bank to cover the additional risk exposure (dollar-for-dollar) and still come out ahead.
Second question: When is the last time you saw an article in Health Affairs or any other health policy journal pointing out this obvious way to eliminate waste? My guess is that your answer is “never.” I’m sure you have seen articles about the hazards of high deductible insurance. Why are the journals so reluctant to focus on the benefits?
Every serious study that has ever been done on the subject has found that patients spend less on health care when they are spending their own money. The latest study by the RAND Corporation estimates that families with high deductible plans and Health Savings Accounts spend about 30% less than families with conventional insurance. And that’s with HSA plans designed by Congress. Think how much more effective the accounts could be if they were designed by the marketplace.
Further, no patient group was harmed by the switch to high-deductible insurance — not even vulnerable populations. This echoes the earlier findings of the RAND Health insurance experiment more than 30 years ago.
Ooh I’m driving my life away,
looking for a better way,