Dr. Anthony LoSasso, professor of health policy and administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been focusing on health insurance issues involving Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion, insurance programs and benefit design.
His research has recently focused on the effects of consumer-directed health plans on health care spending and applies economic theory to healthcare policy to further understand the industry.
LoSasso recently told Patient Daily that current health insurance trends consumers should be aware of include high deductibles in health care, the complexities of benefit information and being cautious with the term "value" in health care.
“A high deductible the new normal in health insurance,” LoSasso said. “Because of this big change, other elements of the health insurance industry have to change as well.”
LoSasso explained that as deductibles get higher, hopefully other plans will become available that will be more accessible, whether with premium costs or deductible costs. It could become more affordable, but there may be greater restrictions with who is in the network.
“Health insurance has become a little less salient up front, especially with network design,” LoSasso said. “We are seeing more ‘narrow network’ insurance policies.”
LoSasso also explained that avoiding transparency is difficult for insurance companies because the products are so highly regulated.
“There is not a lot that can be hidden,” he said. “The system asks a lot for the consumer to understand, though, and benefits literacy is a big issue. Insurance companies try to explain their policies, but it is a lot of information to process for the consumer.”
Despite the lack of benefits literacy, LoSasso explained that insurance companies have attempted better ways to simplify their information.
LoSasso also argues that the term “value” is thrown around a lot in health care and used in conflicting and inconsistent ways, which can be confusing to doctors and consumers alike.
“There is an inherent judgment built in when ‘value’ is used in health insurance, and in some cases what the patient wants or can afford and the doctor’s recommendations for the patient as being the best treatment can be conflicting,” he said. “‘Value’ in this situation can be tricky, because in medical situations, the ‘customer’ is not always right.”
UIC researcher believes new health care trends include high deductibles, 'value' ambiguity