I just came across a report on the UPI Newswire where information about a study titled “Co-payments as low as $12 deter women from getting mammograms” by Dr. Amal Trivedi. According to this article, the study found that 8% less women were having their annual mammogram when the copayment was $12 versus when there was no copayment at all. I’d need to look at the study further to know whether the populations of women were socio-economically, geographically, and industry neutral, because I can see a lot of differences in attitude based on these factors.
What I think the important message is from the study, regardless of any population related skewing, is that people will skip having preventative medical screenings if there is a cost. This confirms what other studies have said about people without health insurance postponing care until disease has progressed very far, and therefore having a lower chance of a successful recovery.
What does this say for HSA’s? Do people with High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) that don’t offer covered wellness features have a lower chance of beating serious disease? Is the problem with delivery of health services for what appears to be a very low price? Perhaps we should focus on other reasons that people would avoid an uncomfortable health screening besides cost. What about not having evening and weekend hours? Or a clinic nearby? I bet that we’d find noticeable percentages in these factors, too. Maybe the provider offerings available in different plans would also make a difference in the rate at which people went. Choosing between an unpleasant clinic and a nice one might also make a difference.
I welcome more studies along these lines. We can have the greatest health care available, but if people don’t take advantage of it, for even $12, we have a problem.
Jonathan Pletzke is a consumer expert on health insurance and author of the health insurance book Get a Good Deal on Your Health Insurance Without Getting Ripped-Off, available online and at bookstores nationally. Additional details can be found at the consumers health insurance book and resources website www.BestHealthInsuranceBook.com. Copyright 2007-2008 Aji Publishing.