Consumer Choice in U.S. Health Care: Using Insights from the Past to Inform the Way Forward

Consumer Choice in U.S. Health Care: Using Insights from the Past to Inform the Way Forward

Consumer choice in health care has been advanced as a pathway for improving the quality and affordability of health care. The idea is that when people have access to full and accurate information about the quality and cost of health insurance plans, physicians, hospitals, and services and appropriate tools for using that information they will be able to choose the best options for themselves and their families.1Patients who have the information and incentives to act on the information, the thinking goes, will choose higher-priced options only if these offer higher quality and make them better off. Among services of comparable quality, patients will choose the lowest-cost option. Health care providers are incentivized to compete and innovate to improve quality and lower costs, leading to gains in efficiency and greater value throughout the health care system (see figure).2

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