Study: Primary care MDs don't understand consumer-driven health plans

While the number of patients with high-deductible consumer-driven health plans continues to climb, it seems that primary care physicians haven't caught up with this trend. A new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program found that many aren't ready to discuss the financial ins and outs of these plans, though the adoption of them by employers has grown from 440,000 to 5.5 million over the last three years.

The study, which appears in this month's issue of the American Journal of Managed Care, was based on a mail-in survey of 528 physicians done between May and June of 2007. Of that group, less than half (48 percent) said they felt ready to discuss medical budgets with patients, and 43 percent said they had little knowledge of how consumer-driven health plans work. About one-third said they had scant understanding of how health savings accounts function.

Meanwhile, with physicians feeling on the defensive as consumers peruse online quality reports rating their performance, many don't feel as comfortable discussing tradeoffs between cost and quality, which makes these communications problems worse, researchers said.

To learn more about this study:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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