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Men Forgo Care With Switch to High-Deductible Health Plan
Initial drop in all ER visits and hospitalizations, followed by increase in hospitalizations

THURSDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Men may forgo needed care following the transition to high-deductible health plans (HDHP), according to a study published in the August issue of Medical Care.

Katy B. Kozhimannil, Ph.D., M.P.A, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, and colleagues measured the impact of HDHPs on men and women. Data were collected for low-, intermediate-, and high-severity emergency department visits and hospitalizations for 6,007 men and 6,530 women for one year before and up to two years after their employers switched from a traditional health maintenance organization plan to a HDHP. Emergency department utilization and hospitalizations were compared with those of 18,433 men and 19,178 women who remained in a health maintenance organization plan.

The researchers found that, compared with controls, in the year following transition to HDHP, men had considerable reductions in emergency department visits at all severity levels (−21.5 percent in low-, −21.6 percent in intermediate-, and −34.4 percent in high-severity visits). A reduction was seen for women in low-severity visits (−26.9 percent) but not in intermediate- or high-severity visits. For men, there was also a relative decrease in hospitalizations in year one (−24.2 percent), followed by a relative increase between years one and two (30.1 percent).

"Men seemed to have a concerning response to an HDHP transition," the authors write. "Initial across-the-board reductions in emergency department and hospital care followed by increased hospitalizations might indicate that male HDHP members postponed needed care in the first follow-up year."

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