The Effects of Cost-Sharing on the Health of Vulnerable Populations

NCHC Writers
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Issue Areas: 

CostCoverageDelivery System ReformsDisparitiesEconomic ImpactsInsurancePolicy ImplementationSimplified AdministrationVulnerable Populations

Resource Type: 

Congressional Actions and Reports

Health care experts have warned that cost-sharing, the share of medical costs by insurers and patients, is a deterrent for low-income patients to seeking health care services. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has published a new study entitled “Cost-sharing: Effects on Spending and Outcomes.” Key findings from the report include: the realization that cost-sharing may not be an effective tool to reduce the rate of growth of health care cost and evidence that cost-sharing increases are associated with adverse health outcomes for the elderly, the chronically ill, and  individuals on welfare.  Similarly, Health Affairs reports that despite the adoption of access reforms in  Massachusetts, residents there earning less than  $25,000 per year were much less likely than higher earners to get preventive care and critical screening services due to associated out-of-pocket costs.   While more data is needed, both studies suggest that in order to reduce national health expenditures,  it may be appropriate to limit cost sharing for vulnerable low income populations.

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