Cost-Sharing under Consumer-Driven Health Care Will Not Reform U.S. Health Care



Various kinds of consumer-driven reforms have been attempted over the last 20 years in an effort to rein in soaring costs of health care in the United States. Most are based on a theory of moral hazard, which holds that patients will over-utilize health care services unless they pay enough for them. Although this theory is a basic premise of conventional health insurance, it has been discredited by actual experience over the years. While ineffective in containing costs, increased cost-sharing as a key element of consumer-driven health care (CDHC) leads to restricted access to care, underuse of necessary care, and lower quality and worse outcomes of care. This paper summarizes the three major problems of U.S. health care urgently requiring reform and shows how cost-sharing fails to meet that goal.