The Effects of Consumer-Directed Health Plans on Health Care Spending
Anthony T. Lo Sasso
Lorens A. Helmchen
We use unique data from an insurer that exclusively offers high-deductible, "consumer-directed" health plans to identify the effect of plan features, notably the spending account, on health care spending. Our results show that the marginal dollar in the spending account is entirely spent on outpatient and pharmacy services. In contrast, inpatient and out-of-pocket spending were not responsive to the amount in 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 moral hazard consequences to higher spending account levels.
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