Low-income families with high-deductible health plans are more likely than higher-income families with those plans to put off medical treatment because of cost, according to a new study.
A 2009 survey of 141 families with incomes less than 300% of the federal poverty level and 273 families with higher incomes found that the lower-income families more often put off care. Some 51% of lower-income families put off care for an adult because of cost, compared with 35% of higher-income families who did so, according to the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Low-income families understood their plans as well as higher earners and were educated about the cost of services, according to the study's authors. The study was led by Jeffrey Kullgren, a clinical scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who is also affiliated with the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania.
"These findings suggest that physicians have a central role to play in helping their patients navigate the challenges of decisionmaking in high-deductible health plans," the study's authors concluded.