People with low incomes or chronic health problems who have high-deductible health plans are not at greater risk of curtailing necessary medical treatments than healthier or higher income people also enrolled in such plans, according to a study.
High deductibles curb spending for all: study
The study, conducted by the not-for-profit research group RAND and consulting firm Towers Watson, analyzed healthcare claims data from 59 large employers, examining first-year experiences with high-deductible plans of more than 360,000 families nationwide between 2003 and 2007.
Medical spending fell among all families with high-deductible and consumer-driven health plans, compared with those in traditional plans, according to the study published online by the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy.
Families living in areas where the median income is below 200% of the federal poverty level, and those with one of the five most costly chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, spent no more or less on healthcare than other families with high-deductible plans. The families all had at least one member of the household working full time with health benefits, the researchers noted.
“One important issue is whether high-deductible health plans will leave low-income and chronically ill patients with inadequate access to healthcare,” Amelia Haviland, lead author of the study and a statistician at RAND, said in a press release. “The evidence suggests that non-vulnerable families, low-income families and high-risk families are equally affected under high-deductible plans.”
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.