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Saturday, April 30, 2016

In medical market, shoppers lack savvy

By Peter Ubel
The News and Observer
Originally posted April 6, 2016

Even before Obamacare became the law of the land, the U.S. health care system was undergoing a dramatic transformation. Millions of people were shifting from generous health insurance plans to consumer-directed ones that pair low monthly premiums with high out-of-pocket costs.

This shift has been encouraged by employers, eager to reduce the cost of employee benefits. It has also been encouraged by market enthusiasts who contend that the U.S. health care system needs to be more like the traditional consumer economy.

In theory, a family with a high deductible plan – on the hook for, say, the first $5,000 of health care expenses each year – will scrutinize the cost and quality of health care alternatives before deciding whether to receive them. In practice, health care consumerism doesn’t always play out at the bedside in ways that promote savvy medical decisions.

The article is here.


  • A shift from generous health insurance plans to consumer-directed plans has not helped people
  • Most patients, or doctors, do not know how to discuss out-of-pocket health care costs
  • Frustration with our system often distracts physicians from dealing with patients’ financial concerns