Impact of a Patient Incentive Program on Receipt of Preventive Care

Published In: The American Journal of Managed Care, v. 20, no. 6, June 2014, p. 494-501

Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2014

by Ateev Mehrotra, Ruopeng An, Deepak Patel, Roland Sturm

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OBJECTIVES: Patient financial incentives are being promoted as a mechanism to increase receipt of preventive care, encourage healthy behavior, and improve chronic disease management. However, few empirical evaluations have assessed such incentive programs. STUDY DESIGN: In South Africa, a private health plan has introduced a voluntary incentive program which costs enrollees approximately $20 per month. In the program, enrollees earn points when they receive preventive care. These points translate into discounts on retail goods such as airline tickets, movie tickets, or cell phones. METHODS: We chose 8 preventive care services over the years 2005 to 2011 and compared the change between those who entered the incentive program and those that did not. We used multivariate regression models with individual random effects to try to address selection bias. RESULTS: Of the 4,186,047 unique individuals enrolled in the health plan, 65.5% (2,742,268) voluntarily enrolled in the incentive program. Joining the incentive program was associated with statistically higher odds of receiving all 8 preventive care services. The odds ratio (and estimated percentage point increase) for receipt of cholesterol testing was 2.70 (8.9%); glucose testing 1.51 (4.7%); glaucoma screening 1.34 (3.9%); dental exam 1.64 (6.3%); HIV test 3.47 (2.6%); prostate specific antigen testing 1.39 (5.6%); Papanicolaou screening 2.17 (7.0%); and mammogram 1.90 (3.1%) (P <.001 for all 8 services). However, preventive care rates among those in the incentive program was still low. CONCLUSIONS: Voluntary participation in a patient incentive program was associated with a significantly higher likelihood of receiving preventive care, though receipt of preventive care among those in the program was still lower than ideal.

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