A managed care giant says it has evidence that health reimbursement arrangements change the way individuals use health care.
Researchers at the company, UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., looked at data for 2003, 2004 and 2005 for 40,000 individuals enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans linked to HRAs and 15,000 individuals enrolled in traditional preferred provider organization plans.
The HRA holders and the PPO plan members worked for the same employers.
The HRA holders were somewhat more likely to seek preventive care than PPO plan members, but the HRA holders were 14% less likely to visit the emergency room and 22% less likely to be admitted to the hospital, according to UnitedHealth.
Chronically ill HRA holders were about as likely to visit their primary care doctors as chronically ill PPO plan members were, but they were 12% less likely to visit the emergency room and 8% less likely to be admitted to the hospital, UnitedHealth says.