Consumer-directed Health Care

Early Evidence About Effects on Cost and Quality

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 25, no. 6, Oct. 24, 2006, p. W516-W530

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, Cheryl L. Damberg, Amelia Haviland, Kanika Kapur, Nicole Lurie, Roland McDevitt, M. Susan Marquis

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Demand for consumer-directed health care (CDHC) is growing among purchasers of care, and early evidence about its effects is beginning to emerge. Studies to date are consistent with effects predicted by earlier literature: There is evidence of modest favorable health selection and early reports that consumer-directed plans are associated with both lower costs and lower cost increases. The early effects of CDHC on quality are mixed, with evidence of both appropriate and inappropriate changes in care use. Greater information about prices, quality, and treatment choices will be critical if CDHC is to achieve its goals.

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