Kaiser Health News
-- "In recent years, insurers have tried to cajole consumers into using less-expensive health-care providers by promising lower co-payments and other cost-sharing breaks for members who select those doctors and hospitals. Lately, they're trying an even more direct approach: cash rewards
Some Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield members in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Indiana can receive $50 to $200 if they get a diagnostic test or elective procedure at a less expensive facility than the one their doctor recommended. The offer covers nearly 40 services, from standard radiology tests such as mammograms and MRIs to such surgical procedures as hip and knee replacements, hernia repair, bariatric surgery and tonsillectomies.
It seems to be working. The city of Manchester, N.H.
, the first employer to pilot Anthem's Compass SmartShopper
program in January 2010, has saved more than $250,000 in health-care costs in two years
, even after factoring in the cash rewards paid to the 476 members who have participated The differences in costs can be eye-popping. According to Anthem data, in Manchester a hernia repair ranges in price from $4,026 on the low end to $7,498 on the high end. A colonoscopy could cost $1,450 to $2,973.
The program is entirely voluntary. If the member wants to stick with his doctor's initial plan and forgo the cash bonus, no problem."
MP: Sure seems like a win-win situation, and helps overcome patients' general lack of concern about health care costs when only 10% of all medical costs are paid "out-of-pocket" by consumers and the other 90% are paid using "somebody else's money" (insurance, government, employers, etc.).
Update: See full article at the link above for the details of how the patients can find lower cost providers for various procedures to qualify for the cash reward.