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Diagnostic Imaging Down With High Deductible Health Plans

Patients may not be equipped to discern which tests are medically necessary

FRIDAY, Jan. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) — U.S. patients whose health insurance plans have high deductibles undergo fewer diagnostic imaging tests, according to a study published in the February issue of Medical Care.

Researchers analyzed 2010 insurance data from more than 21 million adults nationwide and considered plans with high deductibles to be those with an annual deductible of at least $1,200 for one person and $2,400 for a family.

The researchers found that patients in plans with high deductibles underwent 7.5 percent fewer diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays and computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, than those with other plans. This resulted in 10.2 percent less in imaging payments.

“We had hoped to find that patients were reducing use of low-value imaging, but we found they reduced all use similarly,” senior author Kimberley Geissler, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said in a university news release. “It seems patients are not informed enough to discern which tests are more optional and which are medically necessary.”

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