Two-thirds of American adults surveyed in a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll say that increasing out-of-pocket health care costs will deter people from seeking health care services when needed. Further, the majority say that the increase will harm the public's health. One third say that the increased costs will encourage people to make better decisions about the care they really need or do not need.

"There is no question that as cost-sharing increases, so noncompliance increases. Nonuse of medical services also increases," says Humphrey Taylor, Harris Poll chairman.

Alwyn Cassil, a spokeswoman for the Center for Studying Health System Change, concurs. "When you raise out-of-pocket expenses, it does dampen the demand for services. It suggests the need to be thoughtful about how cost sharing is implemented." In addition, health plan members have difficulty distinguishing between needed services and discretionary services, she says.

"Cost-sharing is going to increase this year, next year, and in the following years," Taylor says.

Raising out-of-pocket expenses deters members from seeking health care services

"Over the next few years, it is likely that most health insurance plans, including government plans like Medicare and Medicaid ..., will require their members to pay substantially more out of pocket for doctors' and hospitals' services and for prescription drugs. If this happens, how much do you think each of the following will also happen?"

SOURCE: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL/HARRIS INTERACTIVE HEALTH CARE POLL

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