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Why savvy shoppers can't fix healthcare spending

March 04, 2016

One popular view of how to corral out-of-control health-care spending is to empower smart shoppers -- to arm individual patients with the information and incentives to shop around for the cheapest imaging scans or blood draws. A boom in high-deductible health insurance plans is supposed to give patients what economists call "skin in the game." The thinking is that, if people can save themselves some dough, they'll make the effort and society will reap the benefits, too -- less health-care spending means lower health-insurance premiums. States have passed regulations to increase transparency in health-care prices, and online calculators have sprouted up to provide patients the information to make the best choices.

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