Panel Paper: Paying Patients to Switch: Impact of a Rewards Program on Choice of Providers, Prices, and Utilization

Thursday, November 7, 2019
I.M Pei Tower: Majestic Level, Vail (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Christopher Whaley, RAND Corporation

Employers and insurers are experimenting with benefit strategies that encourage patients to switch to lower-price providers. One increasingly popular strategy is to financially reward patients who receive care from such providers. We evaluated the impact of a rewards program implemented in 2017 by twenty-nine employers with 269,875 eligible employees and dependents. In the first twelve months of the program we found a 2.1 percent reduction in prices paid for services targeted by the rewards program. The reductions in price resulted in savings of $2.3 million, or roughly $8 per person, per year. These effects were primarily seen in magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasounds, with no observed price reduction among surgical procedures. Preliminary analysis with two years of data and expansion to 755 employers covering 770,824 employees reveal similar savings.