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Outliers: Patients see vital drugs as less expensive: study

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: February 9, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

Turning the fundamentals of economics upside down, a study has found that Americans think that the lower the total price of a lifesaving medicine, the more valuable the medicine is, meaning they're more likely to take it.

In the same vein, the higher the price of a lifesaving medicine, the less likely a person is going to take it, the study results indicate.

...while they expect this to be more expensive
The results were not expected by the researchers, says one of the study authors, Adriana Samper, assistant professor at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Samper says the perceptions may be tied to a belief that the U.S. healthcare system places a high value on saving lives and as a result will keep prices for such things as a lifesaving drug or vaccine low. (Please refrain from snickering.)

She says that belief is supported by the finding that for non-lifesaving medicines, the traditional pricing theories hold up, valuable medicines are expected to be priced high and low-value medicines are expected to have a low price, according to the results of the study, scheduled to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

“People (also) may feel uncomfortable thinking that they would die if they didn't have the money to pay for access to lifesaving care,” Samper says. She says all of the drugs were considered to be free to the patient, so the results were not tied to the ability to pay.

As optimistic as the study participants were about healthcare's view of lifesaving drugs, they still take a more self-centered approach to vaccinations. Participants were more likely to get vaccinated when advised of the benefits to their own self than they were when advised of the benefits to society.

“They really needed to see the effects on themselves,” Samper says. “We were a little disappointed.”

Patients expect this to be cheap...

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