Comparative Effectiveness Research May Aid in Reducing Health Care Costs

By Meredith Ledford on March 2nd, 2010
Health Insurance

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created a council to direct comparative effectiveness research across the Federal government. The council was set up to make recommendations for the $400 million allocated to the Office of the Secretary for comparative effectiveness research.

What Is Comparative Effectiveness Research?

Comparative effectiveness research is meant to improve the quality of health care services delivered, and to decrease health insurance costs and health care spending. However, as with most policies, there are those that support the initiative and believe it may benefit patients and society, as well as others who believe that comparative effectiveness research may harm patients in the long run.

How Does Comparative Effectiveness Research Work?

The goal of comparative effectiveness research is to improve health outcomes by developing and disseminating evidence-based information to patients, as well as health care providers such as doctors and nurses, and health care decision-makers. This information would provide details about the effectiveness of specific treatments compared to other available options.

By providing you with this information to identify the most effective and efficient services, treatments, and drugs, you may have the tools to better choose health insurance coverage and the ability to decline unnecessary services, which in turn, may help lower your health care costs.

What Is an Example of Comparative Effectiveness Research?

Studies and research are currently being conducted that may help you make good decisions about your health insurance coverage and the services, drugs, and treatments you receive. For example, a recent clinical trial found that older, relatively inexpensive drugs for treating high blood pressure (known as diuretics) were more effective in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, for those 55 or older, than commonly used, newer, more expensive drugs.

This type of information may help you make a more informed decision about your treatment options or the prescription drug coverage provided by your health insurance plan.

What's the Debate?

Proponents say that comparative effectiveness research can provide you, as well as doctors, with crucial information to help you decide among various drugs or treatments. On the other hand, critics say the research could be used to limit or ration care if the federal government or insurers used the information to deny coverage for a particular test or procedure that may be beneficial because it was found to be less effective.

Comparative effectiveness research may help you save money on health care costs over time. However, you might also save on premiums by comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies. Compare rates and choose the best policy for you and your family.

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