NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Zachary Wagner

University of California Berkeley

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2015Patient Responses to Incentives in Consumer-directed Health Plans: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals
with Peter J. Huckfeldt, Amelia Haviland, Ateev Mehrotra, Neeraj Sood: w20927
Prior studies suggest that consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) -characterized by high deductibles and health care accounts- reduce health costs, but there is concern that enrollees indiscriminately reduce use of low-value services (e.g., unnecessary emergency department use) and high-value services (e.g., preventive care). We investigate how CDHP enrollees change use of pharmaceuticals for chronic diseases. We compare two large firms where nearly all employees were switched to CDHPs to firms with conventional health insurance plans. In the first firm’s CDHP, pharmaceuticals were subject to the deductible, while in the second firm pharmaceuticals were exempt. Employees in the first firm shifted the timing of drug purchases to periods with lower cost sharing and were more likely to use lo...
 
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