In Consumer-Directed Health Plans, A Majority of Patients Were Unaware of Free to Low-Cost Preventive Care
Consumer-directed health plans are plans with high deductibles that typically require patients to bear no out-of-pocket costs for preventive care, such as annual physicals or screening tests, in order to ease financial barriers and encourage patients to seek such care.
People surveyed in California who had a consumer-directed health plan and found that fewer than one in five understood that their plan exempted preventive office visits, medical tests, and screenings from their deductible, meaning that this care was free or had a modest co-payment. Roughly one in five said that they had delayed or avoided a preventive office visit, test, or screening because of cost. Those who were confused about the exemption were significantly more likely to report avoiding preventive visits because of cost concerns. Special efforts to educate consumers about preventive care cost-sharing exemptions may be necessary as more health plans, including Medicare, adopt this model.