August 4, 2018

Why shopping for healthcare doesn't work

Austin Frakt says in his blog and NYT:
Each year, for well over a decade, more people have faced higher health insurance deductibles. The theory goes like this: The more of your own money that you have to spend on health care, the more careful you will be — buying only necessary care, purging waste from the system.
But that theory doesn’t fully mesh with reality: High deductibles aren’t working as intendedHe refers specifically to this NBER paper and the summary is :
We could provide physicians with price, quality and distance information for the services they recommend. Further, with financial bonuses, we could give physicians (instead of, or in addition to, patients) some incentive to identify and suggest lower-cost care. An alternative approach is for insurers to refuse to pay more than a reasonable price — like the market-average — for a health care service, though patients could pay the difference if they prefer a higher-priced provider.
Leaving decisions solely to patients, and just making them spend more of their own money, doesn’t work.
I you want to understand why shopping for healthcare doesn't work, have a look at this book: