high-deductible plans

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High-deductible health plans, which have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, help reduce health care spending, according to a new study from Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis. But the researchers also found that people on HDHPs are using fewer preventive services such as cancer screenings, perhaps because people are worried about getting stuck with the bill. 


For the first time in her life, 26-year-old freelance designer Susannah Lohr had to shop for health insurance this year.

She called up a major insurer in the St. Louis area where she lives and they offered her a plan with a hefty $6,000 deductible—that’s the amount she’d have to cover herself before the insurance kicks in.


saiah Roggow, a third-year medical student at the University of California, Riverside, examines patient Becky Ketchum during the school’s free clinic.
Rebecca Plevin / KPCC

Time for a pop quiz: When it comes to health care, what’s the difference between cost, charge and payment?

“Does anyone want to take a stab at it?” Sara-Megumi Naylor asks a group of first-year residents at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

This story is part of a collaboration that includes KPCC, NPR and Kaiser Health News

CT scan
Rebecca A. Perron/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ / U.S. Navy

Douglas White knew high-deductible insurance is supposed to make patients feel the pain of medical prices and turn them into smart shoppers. So he shopped.

He called around for price quotes on the CT scan his doctor ordered. After all, his plan’s $2,000 deductible meant paying the full cost out of pocket. Using information from his insurer, he found a good deal — $473.53 at Coolidge Corner Imaging in Boston, a half hour from his house.

But the bill he got later was for $1,273.02 — more than twice as much — from a hospital he had no idea was connected to the imaging center.

Got a high-deductible health plan? The kind that doesn't pay most medical bills until they exceed several thousand dollars? You're a foot soldier who's been drafted in the war against high health costs.