J Gen Intern Med 27:1112-9.
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
BACKGROUND: Cancer screening is often fully covered under high-deductible health plans (HDHP), but low socioeconomic status (SES) women still might forego testing.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of switching to a HDHP on breast and cervical cancer screening among women of low SES.
DESIGN: Pre-post with comparison group.
PARTICIPANTS: Four thousand one hundred and eighty-eight health plan members enrolled for one year before and up to two years after an employer-mandated switch from a traditional HMO to an HMO-based HDHP, compared with 9418 propensity score matched controls who remained in HMOs by employer choice. Both groups had low outpatient copayments. High-deductible members had full coverage of mammography and Pap smears, but $500 to $2000 individual deductibles for most other services. HMO members had full coverage of cancer screening and low copayments for other services without any deductible. We stratified analyses by SES.
INTERVENTION: Transition to a HDHP.
MAIN MEASURES: Annual breast and cervical cancer screening rates; rates of annual preventive outpatient visits.
KEY RESULTS: In follow-up years 1 and 2, low SES HDHP members experienced no statistically detectable changes in rates of breast cancer screening (ratio of change, 1.14, 95 % CI, [0.93,1.40] and 1.05, [0.80,1.37], respectively) or preventive visits (difference-in-differences, +1.9 %, [-11.9 %,+17.7 %] and +10.1 %, [-9.4 %,+33.7 %], respectively) relative to HMO counterparts. Similarly, among low SES HDHP members eligible for cervical cancer screening, no significant changes occurred in either screening rates (1.01, [0.86,1.20] and 1.08, [0.86,1.35]) or preventive visits (+0.2 %, [-11.4 %,+13.3 %] and -1.4 %, [-18.1,+18.6]). Patterns were statistically similar for high SES members.
CONCLUSION: During two follow-up years, transition to an HMO-based HDHP with coverage of primary care visits and cancer screening did not lead to differentially lower rates of breast and cervical cancer screening or preventive visits for low SES women. Generalizability is limited to commercially insured women transitioning to HDHPs with low cost-sharing for cancer screening and primary care visits, a common design.
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