High-Deductible Health Plans Potentially Troublesome for Patients with COPD

Barriers to care and financial strain some main concerns

Enrollment in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) was shown to be associated with cost-related barriers to care, financial strain, and more frequent emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published last week in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Effective medical treatment can improve quality of life, and help patients avoid exacerbations within communities for patients with COPD. The prevalence of HDHP plans have risen in recent years, with the proportion of privately insured patients aged under 65 years having the plan being 43% this past year, compared with 25% in 2010. 

Researchers examined the association of HDHPs with healthcare access, utilization, and financial strain in patients with COPD. Data was derived from a National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted between 2011-2017, using Internal Revenue Service-specified thresholds to classify health plans as “high” or “traditional” deductible coverage, on privately insured adults aged 40-64 years with COPD. Analyses were stratified by high versus low deductible care, comparing patients with HDHP coverage to individuals with a traditional plan.

Study results exhibited a strong association between patients with COPD enrolled in HDHPs and multiple indicators of access to care, financial strain, and healthcare utilization assessed in the NHIS.

SOURCE: AJMC

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