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KHN: Consumer Choice Doesn't Significantly Lower Healthcare Spending - Study

A new study throws cold water on the popular idea that consumers can save themselves and the health care system loads of money if they become savvier shoppers for health care services.

The analysis by the Health Care Cost Institute focused on what consumers paid out of pocket, where comparison shopping can result in lower costs. The study found that less than 7 percent of total health care spending in 2011 was paid by consumers for "shoppable" services.

"What surprised us was the percent of total spending that [consumers] could affect was really pretty modest," said Amanda Frost, a co-author of the study and a senior researcher at HCCI, a nonprofit research group based in Washington, D.C. "Because these gains are pretty modest, designing systems around expecting consumers to become uber shoppers might not be the best way."

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