The American Journal of Managed Care just published an article asking family doctors whether they were ready to practice in a consumer-driven environment. Call me an optimist, but I think the results are quite promising.
The article cites a January 2007 survey from the health plans’ major trade association, AHIP, which claimed 4.5 million in consumer-driven plans. The survey of physicians was conducted in May and June of 2007. (Although I’m not certain that the authors fully understand what a consumer-driven plan is: they refer to “medical savings accounts” when they are likely referring to any or all of Health Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or Flexible Spending Arrangements).
Despite such a small fraction of the population covered by consumer-driven plans, 40 percent of physicians reported that such patients were in their practices, although they only comprised 5 percent of their patients. Despite this small number, one quarter of the doctors reported having heard “much” or “a great deal” about consumer-driven plans. Over half reported an understanding of how much out-of-pocket costs such patients faced.
Although not all doctors with such patients understood these matters, they understood them better than doctors without such patients. Furthermore, almost half of doctors with such patients viewed consumer-driven plans positively, while less than one fifth viewed them negatively.
These are very good outcomes, given the low penetration of consumer-driven plans at the time. In his latest (outstanding) newsletter, Greg Scandlen suggests that consumer-driven health care has reached the tipping point.
I think so, too, and I certainly hope so. In the light of recent electoral polling data, I expect that we might be in a defensive position for the next few years.