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Association Between High-Deductible Health Plans and Engagement in Routine Medical Care for Type 2 Diabetes in a Privately Insured Population: A Propensity Score-Matched Study

High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are increasingly more common but can be challenging for patients to navigate and may negatively affect care engagement for chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. We sought to understand how higher out-of-pocket costs affect participation in provider visits, medication adherence, and routine monitoring by patients with type 2 diabetes with an HDHP. In a retrospective cohort of 19,379 Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients with type 2 diabetes (age 18-64 years), 6,801 patients with an HDHP were compared with those with a no-deductible plan using propensity score matching. We evaluated the number of telephone and office visits with primary care, oral diabetic medication adherence, and rates of HbA1c testing, blood pressure monitoring, and retinopathy screening. Patients with an HDHP had fewer primary care office visits compared with patients with no deductible (4.25 vs. 4.85 visits per person; P < 0.001), less retinopathy screening (49.9% vs. 53.3%; P < 0.001), and fewer A1c and blood pressure measurements (46.7% vs. 51.4%; P < 0.001 and 93.2% vs. 94.4%; P = 0.004, respectively) compared with the control group. Medication adherence was not significantly different between patients with an HDHP and those with no deductible (57.4% vs. 58.6%; P = 0.234). HDHPs seem to be a barrier for patients with type 2 diabetes and reduce care participation in both visits with out-of-pocket costs and preventive care without out-of-pocket costs, possibly because of the increased complexity of cost sharing under an HDHP, potentially leading to decreased monitoring of important clinical measurements.

Authors: Wu, You M; Huang, Jie; Reed, Mary E

Diabetes Care. 2022 05 01;45(5):1193-1200.

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