by Jinghong Chen

Financially rewarding members who visit lower-price providers can drive health care savings, according to a study published in the March edition of Health Affairs. The study evaluated the impact of a Health Care Service Corp. rewards program launched in January 2017 by 29 employers, which paid patients $25 to $500 for receiving care from a designated lower-price provider for certain elective services. Researchers found that the implementation of the program was associated with a 2.1% reduction in the average price per service across all eligible services, a 1.3-percentage-point increase in the probability of an employee receiving care from a lower-price provider, and a 0.26-percentage-point relative reduction in the fraction of people in the intervention population who used a reward-eligible service. MRIs, ultrasounds and mammograms saw the greatest decreases in prices.

NOTE: The graphic shows the results of a difference-in-differences analysis that compared prices, use of lower-price providers, and utilization in the first year of the rewards program (2017) versus in the two prior years (2015-16), with trends in the comparison population controlled for.

SOURCE: Health Affairs 38, No. 3 (2019): 440-447. Visit https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05068.