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Cost And Health Care Quality: Many Don’t See Link

Most consumers don’t believe the adage that “you get what you pay for” in health care, according to a new study.

The report in this month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs analyzed the responses of 2,010 adults to four questions about the relationship between health care prices and quality, such as “Would you say higher prices are typically a sign of better quality medical care or not?” and “If one doctor charged less than another doctor for the same service, would you think that the less expensive doctor is providing lower quality care or would you not think that?”

A majority of consumers – between 58 and 71 percent, depending on the question – didn’t associate price with quality, the study found.

For many consumer goods, price can be a good proxy for quality. But in health care, there is “limited evidence that higher prices are associated with higher quality or better health outcomes,” according to the study. The goal of many efforts to get price and quality information to consumers is to nudge people toward choosing “high-value” care that gives them the most effective care for the money.