A 2017 study by Reid, Rabideau, and Sood published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that, despite their promises to save on medical costs, high-deductible health plans (HDHPs; also known as consumer-directed health plans or CDHPs) have failed to curb spending on unnecessary or low-value health services.
“CDHPs in their current form may represent too blunt an instrument to specifically curtail low-value healthcare spending,” the researchers concluded.
This doesn’t surprise me all that much. Patients often lack reliable information to decide which health care services provide the most value and are at the mercy of their physicians to inform them. So, even if you give patients more skin in the game, without adequate information they can rely on, they will use health care in about the same way they always have.
Even though the researchers found that CDHPs did reduce overall health spending, we can only conclude that the reduction came in the form of foregoing high-value health services.
CDHPs were touted as empowering consumers, but they were really just excuses for employers to cut back on benefits and for wealthy people to get tax breaks by sheltering money in their health savings accounts.