Without clear information on quality, patients may assume that more expensive care is better care, according to a study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Political efforts to improve the transparency of health costs aim to reduce overall health spending, but there is little evidence about how such information may influence consumers' decisions. A team of researchers studied how various presentations of cost and quality information influenced the choices of 1421 individuals at 2 companies (Hibbard JH et al. Health Aff [Millwood]. 2012;31:560-568). The investigators found that many of the individuals perceived low-cost clinicians to be substandard and avoided them. Surprisingly, the researchers also found that even individuals with high-deductible health care plans, who shoulder greater up-front costs, were likely to associate higher costs with higher-quality care.
Kuehn BM. Choosing Quality Care. JAMA. 2012;307(16):1683. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.512