Comparing Health Care Services' Cost, Quality

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The Oregonianon Wednesday examined whether releasing information on the costs andquality of health care will "compel patients to act more likethrift-minded consumers whose clout will restrain price inflation andboost service quality." According to the Oregonian,"Employers and other big purchasers of health care expect much from aninjection of consumerism into the market for health services," but"even the most ardent advocates acknowledge that consumer-directedhealth care still has far to go before delivering its hoped-forresults."

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National surveys indicate that most people are notaware of quality comparison report cards, and where employers or stateshave established detailed hospital and physician report cards, "themarket impact has been minimal," the Oregonian reports. Among people who are familiar with report cards and ratings, "confusion and distrust are rampant," according to the Oregonian.Surveys also have found that most people prefer the advice of friends,family and personal physicians over published information or governmentsources.

In addition, surveys by Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the Employee Benefits Research Institute and the Commonwealth Fund found that people enrolled in high-deductible health plans are no more cost-conscious than others, the Oregonian reports. According to Lynne-Marie Crider -- a public policy specialist with the Service Employees International Union Local 49in Portland, Ore. -- even the most well-informed consumer will lackmarket clout to pressure providers to cut costs or improve quality.Crider said, "In most communities, there is only one hospital, sopurchasers cannot reward hospitals that control costs or improvequality and punish poor quality or high cost." She added that much ofthe decision making is left up to businesses and government programsthat cover people through their health plans (Rojas-Burke, Oregonian, 1/2).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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