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Background: Value-based health care models such as bundled payments and accountable care organizations can penalize health systems and physicians for excess costs leading to low-value care. Health systems can minimize these extra costs by constraining diagnostic (eg, magnetic resonance imaging utilization) or treatment options with debatable necessity in the setting of clinical equipoise. Instead of restricting more expensive treatments, it is plausible that health systems could instead recoup the extra costs of these treatments by charging patients supplementary out-of-pocket charges (cost sharing). The primary aim of this exploratory study was to assess hand surgery patient willingness to pay supplementary out-of-pocket charges for a procedure that theoretically leads to an earlier return to work or smaller incisions when there are 2 procedures that lead to similar results (clinical equipoise). Methods: A total of 122 patients completed a questionnaire that included demographic information, a financial distress assessment, a series of scenarios asking patients the degree to which they are willing to pay extra for the procedure choice, as well as their perspective of how much insurers should be responsible for these additional costs. Results: Patients were willing to pay out-of-pocket to some degree for a procedure that leads to earlier return to work and smaller incision size when compared with a similar alternative procedure, but noted that insurers should bear a greater burden of costs. Approximately 10% of patients were willing to pay maximum amounts ($2500+) for earlier return to work (3, 7, and 14 days earlier) and smaller incision sizes of any length. Conclusions: Some patients may be willing to pay out-of-pocket and cost share for procedures that lead to earlier return to work and smaller incisions in the setting of clinical equipoise. As such, when developing and implementing alternative payment models, health systems could potentially offer services with debatable necessity in the setting of equipoise for a supplementary out-of-pocket charge.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1558944719890039
View details for PubMedID 31791156