NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 11, 2004

Controlling health care costs through the use of managed care has often. However, a recent survey from the University of Chicago revealed that many consumers are more favorable to cost containment practices than in the past, including using cheaper drugs and getting referrals and/or authorizations for services and treatments.

The survey of 2,000 adults revealed:

  • Only 30 percent believe that managed care can contain costs without jeopardizing patient health, but many consumers are willing to make trade-offs between health care costs and more services, depending on their state of health.
  • Some 27 percent of respondents are willing to pay higher deductibles in exchange for more health care services, while 35 percent are willing to pay higher health care premiums in exchange for more health care services.
  • About 54 percent of respondents referred to the substitution of less costly drugs as a "good" or "very good" idea.
  • Some 52 percent of respondents thought that requiring referrals for specialist care was a "good" or "very good" idea, while 43 percent expressed that level of support for prior authorization on new or expensive procedures.

Researcher Claudia Schur notes that consumers are likely more open to managed care practices simply because they are also affected by increasing costs:

  • Some 12 percent of respondents reported spending between $2,000 and $5,000 for out-of-pocket deductibles last year, although over half of the respondents spent less than $500 on deductibles.
  • About 4 percent of respondents spent more than $5,000 last year on out-of-pocket deductibles.

The response to cost containment practices varies among segments of the population: The uninsured, low-income people in poor health and young, healthy individuals were most likely to favor them, while wealthier consumers in poor health were least likely to favor them.

Source: Mary Darby, Janet Firshein and Kari Root, "Survey Finds Many Health Care Consumers Willing to Accept Limits on Service Use in Exchange for Lower Costs," Health Affairs Online, November 10, 2004.

For study abstract


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