Health Incentive Plans

Austin Frakt wants to wants to change how we think about health insurance:

Charging copayments that vary with the efficacy and cost-efficiency of the service is an important concept in benefit design. A “benefit-based” or “value-based” cost-sharing system sets copayment levels lower for therapies proven effective and higher for costly benefits with little or no clinical value. Today health insurance plans do a poor job of aligning cost incentives with benefits of therapy.

I don’t blame insurers. It is a genuinely hard problem, and there is a lack of data on what therapies are more effective compared to substitutes. Moreover, even when data exist attempts to change provider practice and consumer utilization patterns based on it can be controversial. Nevertheless, in time and with more research health plans and the health system in which they operate can, should, and must do a better job of aligning incentives with efficacy. Part of the solution is to think of health plans not only as insurance but as health incentive plans.