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Am J Prev Med. 1999 Aug;17(2):127-33.

Cost-sharing and the utilization of clinical preventive services.

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University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, 94720-7360, USA.



Little is known about the effect of different forms of patient cost-sharing on the utilization of clinical preventive services or if the effect varies by type of health plan.


To assess empirically the relationships between the utilization of recommended preventive services and different forms of patient cost-sharing and how the effect is mediated by type of preventive service (counseling, blood pressure, Pap smear, mammogram), type of cost-sharing (deductibles/coinsurance, copayments), and type of health plan (HMO, PPO/indemnity plan).


Sixteen logit models were estimated to assess variation in receiving recommended preventive care as a function of cost-sharing within plan type.


A sample of 10,872 employees, aged 18 to 64 years, of seven large companies served by 52 health plans with diverse cost-sharing arrangements who responded to the Pacific Business Group on Health, Health Plan Value Check Survey (response rate, 50.3%).


Receipt of recommended preventive care was based on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines. The effect of cost-sharing was measured as the percentage change in the probability of receiving recommended preventive care in the cost-sharing group compared to the non cost-sharing group.


The negative effect of patient cost-sharing was greatest on preventive counseling in PPO/indemnity plans (-15%) and on mammograms in all health plan types (-9%-10%). The effect on Pap smears was negative (-8%-10%) for deductibles/coinsurance in PPO/indemnity plans and copayments in HMOs. The effect of cost-sharing on blood pressure was mixed. Deductibles/coinsurance had a greater negative effect than copayments.


Eliminating patient cost-sharing for selected preventive services may be a relatively easy and effective means of increasing utilization of recommended clinical preventive care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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