From NY Times: Shopping for Health Care Simply Doesn’t Work. So What Might? (Thanks to Ben Enav for pointing out this article)
What this latest study suggests, in the context of other studies, is that if people can’t shop for elective M.R.I.s, there’s hardly a chance they are going to do so with other health care procedures that are more complicated and variable.
Even if 40 percent of health care is shoppable, people are not shopping. What seems likelier to work is doing more to influence what doctors advise.
For example, we could provide physicians with price, quality and distance information for the services they recommend. Further, with financial bonuses, we could give physicians (instead of, or in addition to, patients) some incentive to identify and suggest lower-cost care.
Leaving decisions to patients, and making them spend more of their own money, doesn’t work.