Economic Policy Institute Releases Briefing Paper Demonstrating that Increased Health Care Cost Sharing Doesn’t Work
May 15, 2013 04:26 PM
The well-respected think tank, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), recently released Briefing Paper #358: Increased Health Care Cost Sharing Works as Intended: It Burdens Patients Who Need Care Most. The paper compiles the findings of several recent academic studies that have found that increased health care cost sharing, “is a flawed strategy for health care cost containment. The health care market is unlike other markets; thus, forcing increased cost sharing on American households is a deeply inefficient strategy for trying to contain health care costs.”
EPI’s paper comes at a critical moment as discussions on how to cut costs in the nation’s healthcare system – and ways to modify Medicare – continue to gain traction with both lawmakers and policy analysts. With the House and Senate budget committees deadlocked on moving forward with a Conference Committee to negotiate a compromise budget, President Obama’s budget that suggests additional copays within Medicare, and the Simpson-Bowles Commission releasing a new deficit reduction plan, discussions on the future shape of Medicare remain a sensitive and controversial issue. Many of the plans that have emerged recently suggest including additional cost sharing measures such as additional copays or deductibles for services within the Medicare program.
Briefing Paper #358 details how additional cost sharing proposals in both the private healthcare marketplace as well as in the publically-financed Medicare program will “lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs, hitting those who require a high degree of medical care especially hard,” while “many proposals to restructure Medicare could increase the financial and health risks faced by the vulnerable elderly.”
The EPI paper makes many of the same arguments against increased cost sharing and copayments for the broader healthcare system that The National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has long made with respect to home health services. In fact, it was because of similar research conclusions that the home health copayment was removed from Medicare in the 1970s. Studies then found that the home health copayment was a barrier to care that forced beneficiaries into costlier care settings, leading to increased –not decreased – healthcare spending.
As policymakers continue to debate how to reduce government spending and alter Medicare, EPI’s Briefing Paper #358 serves as a reminder that increased cost sharing and added copayments rarely have their intended results. Lawmakers should be looking for ways to improve access to high-quality, cost-effective care – such as home health care – rather than try to slow spending through misplaced proposals such as additional out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.
To read the full Issue Paper, please click here.
To learn more about NAHC’s position on additional home health copays – and to urge your lawmakers to oppose such measures – please click here.