New Study Indicates Shopping Tools Alone Might Not Lower Medical Spending, Even Though More Patients Want to Know Prices for Clinical Laboratory Tests and Other Procedures
JAMA study finds that most workers with access to web-based price comparison tools did not use them, nor did they spend less on medical care than other workers
Can shopping tools designed to help patients compare providers (including medical laboratories), quality, and prices, make a contribution to reducing the increase in healthcare costs? A new study suggests that such shopping tools make only modest contributions to controlling the cost of care.
Published May 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study found that only 10% of the 150,000 employees at two large companies offering web-based transparency tools logged on to compare healthcare costs during the calendar year. In addition, providing workers with the ability to shop for healthcare services did not bring down employees’ average outpatient spending. Instead, employees with access to transparency tools spent slightly more than workers who could not price shop.
“Our findings temper the enthusiasm around the idea that price transparency is some sort of panacea … that price transparency alone, coupled with high deductible health plans, are going to lead to reduced spending,” stated Sunita Desai, PhD, a Seidman Fellow in Healthcare Policy at Harvard Medical School who led the study. She was quoted in a Washington Post article. (more…)