Increased co-payments can decrease hospital stays

Patients showing no ill effects

Oakland, Calif. October 31, 2006 The largest-ever study on the effects of health care co-payment costs on emergency department visits has revealed that requiring patients to pay for a portion of the cost can reduce the number of visits. The study also finds that this decrease does not negatively affect health.

"The results of this study are encouraging in that these modest co-payments appeared to reduce health care use, and therefore overall costs, without harming patients," says Dr. John Hsu, lead author of the study.

While emergency visit rates decrease substantially as the co-payment increases, the findings show no increase in the rate of unfavorable clinical events (hospitalization, intensive care admission) and no increase in deaths. The study appears in the latest issue of Health Services Research.

The population-based experiment followed over two million commercially insured and 250,000 Medicare insured patients.

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This study is published in the October issue of Health Services Research. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Dr. Hsu is an internist and health services researcher in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and a fellow at the Institute for Health Policy. Dr. Hsu is the principal investigator on two AHRQ and NIH sponsored studies on patient cost-sharing. He can be reached for questions at: jth@dor.kaiser.org

Health Services Research (HSR) provides those engaged in research, public policy formulation, and health services management with the latest findings, methods and thinking on important policy and practice issues. Providing a forum for the expansion of knowledge of the financing, organization, delivery and outcomes of health services, HSR also allows practitioners and students alike to exchange ideas that will help to improve the health of individuals and communities. HSR is published on behalf of Health Research and Educational Trust in cooperation with AcademyHealth. For more information, please visit: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/hesr

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