When it Comes to Health Information, Consumers are Coming Up Short

By Staff Report

Jul. 23, 2004

Consumers don’t seem to be getting the information they need to make smart and economical health care decisions, according to the initial findings from Mercer/Harvard study of consumer-driven health plans. 
Only 16 percent of people enrolled in health reimbursement accounts were provided information about doctors and medical groups that would help them choose based on costs. Similarly, only 17 percent were provided cost information to help them choose a hospital.
Also, according to the report, information that would help people manage a chronic condition was provided to only 34 percent of enrollees in the health reimbursement accounts.
The irony is that consumerism is based on the idea that employees will make better health care decisions if they are educated about the cost and quality of care. According to the Mercer/Harvard study, “Rather than simply increase cost sharing, consumer-directed health plans are purported to empower individuals to make informed choices with regard to their health and health care.”
The study of more than 300 major health plans was funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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