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January 23, 2013

In Brief: Amelia M. Haviland on Consumer-Directed Health Plans

by Amelia M. Haviland

Families who switched from a traditional health plan to a consumer-directed health plan spent an average of 21 percent less on health care in the first year after switching than similar families who remained in traditional plans. Amelia Haviland presents the results of several new RAND studies on cost and quality in consumer-directed health plans, and explores how switching plans affects the quality of care.

“I would want policymakers to know that these plans do reduce spending. They reduce overall spending, it's not just a shift in costs. And that that reduction is substantial—we're talking between 15 and 25 percent. The note of caution that we just don't know yet is what the implications of those reductions will be over time—it's a reduction in use—and whether those could lead to poorer health outcomes and increased spending over time, or whether people will make clinically sensible choices.”

Amelia M. Haviland, senior statistician

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