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The Effects of Consumer-Directed Health Plans on Health Care Spending

Anthony T. Lo Sasso, Lorens A. Helmchen and Robert Kaestner
The Journal of Risk and Insurance
Vol. 77, No. 1, Special Issue on Health Insurance (March 2010), pp. 85-103
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20685291
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effects of Consumer-Directed Health Plans on Health Care Spending
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Abstract

We use unique data from an insurer that exclusively offers high-deductible, "consumer-directed" health plans to identify the effect of plan features, notably employer contributions to the spending account, on health care spending. Our results show that the marginal dollar contributed by the employer to the spending account is entirely spent on outpatient and pharmacy services. In contrast, out-of-pocket spending was not responsive to the amount the employer contributes to the spending account. Our results represent the first plausibly causal estimates of the components of consumer-driven health plans on health spending. The magnitudes of the effects suggest important health care spending consequences to higher employer contributions to spending accounts. Our findings are most directly relevant to health reimbursement arrangement plan designs, though our results are still of value to health savings account plan designs.

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