Consumers have become more open to the idea of a return to managed care practices, according to a recently released study, even if they remain skeptical that such practices wont have an effect on their care.
“The managed care backlash is easing up, probably because consumers are feeling the pinch of rising costs themselves,” said Claudia Schur, principal research scientist with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which conducted the study. “However, support for managed care practices is quite segmented, depending on each consumers health care experience and needs. As a result, we may see more plan offerings where consumers who want choice can pay for it, while those willing to accept limits on their care can pay less.”
According to the survey, only 30% of respondents believe that managed carethrough such means as gatekeeper referrals, drug substitution and prior approval for new or expensive procedurescan keep health care costs down without negatively affecting patients health. However, many respondents also indicated they would be willing to make trade-offs depending on their health and their ability to pay for care.
The survey was supported by the California HealthCare Foundation and released through the Health Affairs Web site.
“Who you are matters,” Schur said, noting that lower income consumers would be among those more willing to accept limitations to their coverage if it meant costs would be reduced. One of the groups most opposed to change, she noted, are older consumers and those who have a greater reliance on their health care coverage who would be more affected by the limitations and whose out-of-pocket expenses would be increased.
Managed care practices declined several years ago amid public outcry over the effects on care, but some aspects of it have begun to resurface, Schur said. Although there is still what she called a “general underlying skepticism about managed care and its ability to hold down costs without affecting care,” Schur said the public has shown it is willing to at least consider the idea in the face of rising costs.
“I think theres a clear willingness to consider managed care,” she said. “There is no blanket refusal.”