Effects of Cost Sharing on Physiological Health, Health Practices, and Worry
In a randomized trial of the effects of medical insurance on spending and the health status of the nonaged, the authors previously reported that patients with limited cost sharing had approximately one-third less use of medical services; similar general self-assessed health; and worse blood pressure, functional far vision, and dental health than those with free care. Of the 20 additional measures of physiological health studied here on 3,565 adults, people with cost sharing scored better on 12 measures and significantly worse only for functional near vision. People with cost sharing had less worry and pain from physiological conditions on 33 of 44 comparisons. There were no significant differences between plans in nine health practices, but those with cost sharing fared worse on three types of cancer screening and better on weight, exercise, and drinking. Overall, except for patients with hypertension or vision problems, the effects of cost sharing on health were minor.