In an otherwise unremarkable article about what everyone who is paying any attention has seen, and remarked upon, The Washington Post repeats a claim that seems more and more suspicious to me.
Higher deductibles are a tool to reduce unnecessary health-care use, because people are more likely to think twice about seeing a doctor or getting tests they might not need if they are footing more of the bill.
This sounds rational and logical, but makes the interesting assumption that demand for health care is elastic. Certainly the demand for some health care is more elastic than, say, the desire for health care after a tumble down the stairs or a diagnosis of colon cancer. But the elastic part of that demand is seemingly the least expensive portion of the national health care expenditure. Having the sniffles or an achy back– and a fat deductible– would seem to limit spur of the moment visits to one’s physician, but simple office visits tend not to be expensive. It’s those unavoidable emergency room visits and three day stays in the hospital that run into five figure charges and $105 Tylenol (read directly from a bill on my desk).
Yes, some people probably use the ER as their primary source of medical care, but my guess is that many of those people do not have insurance, or have one of those rapidly disappearing policies with tiny deductibles. Or are illegals and are taking advantage of our societal propensity for fiscal suicide. And I freely admit that I am supposing and guessing just as much as the WaPo seems to be.
Anyway, it’s just a thought. And…a Gold Star for anyone who can identify the photo illustrating this post…but it is only open to readers younger than 45!