Diabetes Outpatient Care and Acute Complications Before and After High-Deductible Insurance Enrollment: A Natural Experiment for Translation in Diabetes (NEXT-D) Study.
Importance: High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) have expanded under the Affordable Care Act and are expected to play a major role in the future of US health policy. The effects of modern HDHPs on chronically ill patients and adverse outcomes are unknown. Objective: To determine the association of HDHP with high-priority diabetes outpatient care and preventable acute complications. Design, Setting, and Participants: Controlled interrupted-time-series study using a large national health insurer database from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2012. A total of 12 084 HDHP members with diabetes, aged 12 to 64 years, who were enrolled for 1 year in a low-deductible (≤$500) plan followed by 2 years in an HDHP (≥$1000) after an employer-mandated switch were included. Patients transitioning to HDHPs were propensity-score matched with contemporaneous patients whose employers offered only low-deductible coverage. Low-income (n = 4121) and health savings account (HSA)-eligible (n = 1899) patients with diabetes were subgroups of interest. Data analysis was performed from February 23, 2015, to September 11, 2016. Exposures: Employer-mandated HDHP transition. Main Outcomes and Measures: High-priority outpatient visits, disease monitoring tests, and outpatient and emergency department visits for preventable acute diabetes complications. Results: In the 12 084 HDHP members included after the propensity score match, the mean (SD) age was 50.4 (10.0) years; 5410 of the group (44.8%) were women. The overall, low-income, and HSA-eligible diabetes HDHP groups experienced increases in out-of-pocket medical expenditures of 49.4% (95% CI, 40.3% to 58.4%), 51.7% (95% CI, 38.6% to 64.7%), and 67.8% (95% CI, 47.9% to 87.8%), respectively, compared with controls in the year after transitioning to HDHPs. High-priority primary care visits and disease monitoring tests did not change significantly in the overall HDHP cohort; however, high-priority specialist visits declined by 5.5% (95% CI, -9.6% to -1.5%) in follow-up year 1 and 7.1% (95% CI, -11.5% to -2.7%) in follow-up year 2 vs baseline. Outpatient acute diabetes complication visits were delayed in the overall and low-income HDHP cohorts at follow-up (adjusted hazard ratios, 0.94 [95% CI, 0.88 to 0.99] for the overall cohort and 0.89 [95% CI, 0.81 to 0.98] for the low-income cohort). Annual emergency department acute complication visits among HDHP members increased by 8.0% (95% CI, 4.6% to 11.4%) in the overall group, 21.7% (95% CI, 14.5% to 28.9%) in the low-income group, and 15.5% (95% CI, 10.5% to 20.6%) in the HSA-eligible group. Conclusions and Relevance: Patients with diabetes experienced minimal changes in outpatient visits and disease monitoring after an HDHP switch, but low-income and HSA-eligible HDHP members experienced major increases in emergency department visits for preventable acute diabetes complications.
Wharam, JF; Zhang, F; Eggleston, EM; Lu, CY; Soumerai, S; Ross-Degnan, D
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