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Joshua Archambault: Red or Blue Pill for Payment Reform? Both Won’t Work May 10, 2012

Are the House and Senate giving us a false choice for how to control health care costs in Massachusetts? Aren’t there other options?

A few major themes have emerged from the two payment reform proposals and highlight the fact that they fail to align incentives for patients to be more involved in the purchase of their health insurance and their health care.

For example, even with full transparency of cost and quality (which is a huge lift on its own) for many patients, high-cost still correlates with higher quality in medicine. A recent report from Attorney General Coakley proved this theory wrong, but simply providing patients with cost data without placing the right incentives in their health plan to choose the low-cost high-quality provider will result in many selecting the most expensive care. As a result, these proposals will fall short of sustainably bending the cost curve. There is another way for the Commonwealth- patient-centered health plans, see Health Affairs($) for national savings estimates. The impact would be significant in Massachusetts as less than 3% of residents are on a form of these plans, compared to 13% nationally.

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