NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Changing Behavior to Cut Health Care Costs

November 25, 2003

In a response to rising health care costs and coverage cutbacks, American workers are changing their behaviors, says a report by Fidelity Investments. Some examples:

  • Eighty percent plan to choose generic drugs when available in order to reduce health care costs.
  • Fifty-eight percent use the Internet to learn about medical conditions and diagnoses; 57 percent review treatment options and costs with doctors.
  • Forty-seven percent have improved their diet while 34 percent have lost weight.
  • Thirty seven percent undergo routine screening tests; and 25 percent have managed to decrease emergency room visits.
  • Forty-two percent do not know the differences between indemnity plans, preferred-provider organizations (PPOs), and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
  • Thirty-four percent do not know the difference in services covered by the health plans that are available; and 32 percent do not understand the differences in co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance for medical plans offered by their employers.
  • Forty-nine percent are less certain about prescription drug coverage/costs; 39 percent are less certain about what changes they can make any time during the year.
  • Twenty-four percent are not sure what changes can be made during open enrollment; 70 percent did not know how to file an appeal for a denied claim.

Only 23 percent of employees are aware of health promotion or wellness programs offered by the vast majority of health plans. Subsequently, most employees are not taking advantage of these programs, despite making lifestyle changes, the report explained.

Source: "American Workers are Changing Behavior: Response to Rising Health Care Costs and Coverage Cutbacks," Medical Benefits, November 15, 2003.

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