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The results suggest that raising copays to contain costs is counterproductive, said Dr. Amal Trivedi, assistant professor of community health at Brown University, who led the study. Not only may it lead to higher health care spending, but patients also suffer, he said.
"Outpatient care for elderly adults, particularly those with chronic diseases, is very valuable and may not be something you want to discourage by having a large copayment," Trivedi said.
The study was funded by grants from Pfizer Inc. and the federal government.
The findings echo previous studies on increased patient cost-sharing. When California's Medicaid program introduced a $1 copay in 1972, it led to an 8 percent decline in doctor visits and a 17 percent increase in hospital days.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org/
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