Can Managed Care Consumers Make Informed Decisions?
Harvard Health Policy Review, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 41-53, Spring 2002
13 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2006
The concept of managed competition in health care markets is predicated upon the assumption that informed consumers are able to evaluate health plans on the basis of not only cost but also other qualities which include provider choice, covered benefits, quality and patient satisfaction indicators, and convenience. This paper takes up the question of whether consumers are knowledgeable enough about managed care to be capable of make these informed decisions in the first place. A survey testing one's knowledge of managed care was drawn up and distributed to a sample of 100 randomly-selected adults. Scores on the 10-item quiz were remarkably low. Based on the criteria established in the paper, only 7 percent had adequate knowledge (scores of 8 or higher) to make an informed choice in the managed care marketplace. As such, it seems unlikely that consumers are able to evaluate health plans on criterion other than price. To remedy this, employers and governmental entities should pursue pro-competitive strategies that educate and inform the general population about their managed care options.
Keywords: managed competition, managed care
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