Health Care Report: Michigan Residents Pick Costs Over Choice of Doctor

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Michigan residents care more about medical costs than their choice of physicians and network size when selecting health coverage, says a new report by the Ann Arbor-based Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation.

“The fact that consumers in the individual marketplace are willing to change their primary care physician relationship based on price and select a health plan with a narrow provider network with lower costs is significant,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the center, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Udow-Phillips says the study found consumers are twice as likely to consider cost as very important in selecting a health care plan than the number of in-network physicians as an central factor in making their decision.

She says about 90 percent of survey respondents with individually purchased insurance said that at least one cost measure such as a premium or co-pay had been a very important factor in selecting a health plan. About 20 percent of individuals who purchased individual coverage changed primary care physicians as a result of their choices of plans.

IN RELATED NEWS, the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation also surveyed Michigan’s primary care physicians and found they had the capacity to add new patients. In turn, they are more likely to accept Medicaid patients and are more likely to consider joining networks with lower negotiated payments.

“For providers, consumer loyalty may not be as strong a factor in keeping patients as it once was, as they are more willing to shift providers for a lower price,” Udow-Phillips says. “For employers, they may be able to offer more narrow-network plans, as consumers are more accepting of less choice in exchange for lower premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket costs.”

To view both reports, visit chrt.org.

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