Health Plans That Nudge Patients to Do the Right Thing

As health care costs rise, Americans are increasingly on the hook to pay more for their care. This trend is more than just annoying — asking consumers to pay more for everything deters many from getting the care they need. What would happen if, instead, health plans offered more generous coverage of high-value care, but less generous coverage of those services that provide little or no health benefit?

This idea is known as value-based insurance design. Though not widespread, V-BID is not new. It was pioneered nearly 20 years ago by Dr. Mark Fendrick, a physician and professor at the University of Michigan, and Michael Chernew, a Harvard economist. (“Value” in V-BID plans is usually set according to longstanding measurements of quality established by decades of study of medical records.)

In his own practice, Dr. Fendrick feels as if standard insurance is working against him and his patients. “They are deeply concerned about the amount they have to pay out of their own pockets for the things I beg them to do,” he said. “It makes no sense that they pay the same co-payment for a lifesaving drug to treat diabetes or cancer, as for a drug that makes toenail fungus go away.”

This may be changing. The Affordable Care Act includes a V-BID provision, eliminating cost-sharing for more than 100 preventive services, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings. It’s endorsed by four committees of medical experts.

Many large employers and state governments are going further, reducing cost-sharing for high-value care and medications to treat chronic illnesses, like depression and heart disease. This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began a five-year test of value-based design that permits Medicare Advantage plans in seven states to reduce cost-sharing and enhance benefits for enrollees with designated chronic conditions. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to expand the program nationwide…

 

Read full story at NY Times

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