Total and out-of-pocket expenditures among women with metastatic breast cancer in low-deductible versus high-deductible health plans.
PURPOSE: High-deductible health plan (HDHP) enrollment is expanding rapidly and might substantially increase out-of-pocket (OOP) payment burden. We examined trends in total and OOP health service expenditures overall and by insurance coverage type among women with metastatic breast cancer. METHODS: We used a longitudinal time series design to examine measures among 5364 women with metastatic breast cancer insured by a large US health insurer from 2004 to 2011. We measured outcomes during the 12 months after a first identified metastatic breast cancer diagnosis and required women to have at least 6 months of prior enrollment. We plotted enrollment measures and adjusted total and OOP spending. We fit trend lines using linear autoregressive models. RESULTS: Between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of women with metastatic breast cancer enrolled in employer-mandated HDHPs increased from 8 to 23% while the percentage enrolled in employer-mandated low-deductible plans (LDHPs) decreased from 69 to 37%. Over the same time period, estimated annual inflation-adjusted total health service spending among women with metastatic breast cancer whose employers only offered HDHPs or LDHPS increased from $96,899 to $104,688 (increase of $1197 per year; 95% confidence interval [CI]: $47,$2,348). Corresponding OOP spending values among these women with employer-mandated deductible levels were $4,496 and $5,151 ($91 per year trend; 95% CI -$13,$195). From 2004-2011, women in HDHPs and LDHPs had unchanged annual OOP spending, estimated at of $6642 (95% CI $6,268,$7016) and $4,247 (95% CI $3956,$4538), respectively. Thus, women in HDHPs experienced 55% (44%, 66%) more OOP spending than women in LDHP. CONCLUSIONS: OOP spending among women with metastatic breast cancer and employer-mandated deductible levels was 55% higher among HDHP than LDHP members, and employer-mandated HDHP enrollment increased substantially from 2004 to 2011. Stakeholders and policymakers should design health plans that protect financially vulnerable cancer patients from high OOP costs.
Leopold, C; Wagner, AK; Zhang, F; Lu, CY; Earle, CC; Nekhlyudov, L; Ross-Degnan, D; Wharam, JF
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