Published Online: June 25, 2014

Authors: Ateev Mehrotra, MD; Ruopeng An, PhD; Deepak N. Patel, MBBS; and Roland Sturm, PhD

Objectives: Patient financial incentives are being promoted as a mechanism to increase receipt of preventive care, encourage healthy behavior, and improve chronic disease management. However, few empirical evaluations have assessed such incentive programs.

Study Design: In South Africa, a private health plan has introduced a voluntary incentive program which costs enrollees approximately $20 per month. In the program, enrollees earn points when they receive preventive care. These points translate into discounts on retail goods such as airline tickets, movie tickets, or cell phones.

Methods: We chose 8 preventive care services over the years 2005 to 2011 and compared the change between those who entered the incentive program and those that did not. We used multivariate regression models with individual random effects to try to address selection bias.

Results: Of the 4,186,047 unique individuals enrolled in the health plan, 65.5% (2,742,268) voluntarily enrolled in the incentive program. Joining the incentive program was associated with statistically higher odds of receiving all 8 preventive care services. The odds ratio (and estimated percentage point increase) for receipt of cholesterol testing was 2.70 (8.9%); glucose testing 1.51 (4.7%); glaucoma screening 1.34 (3.9%); dental exam 1.64 (6.3%); HIV test 3.47 (2.6%); prostate specific antigen testing 1.39 (5.6%); Papanicolaou screening 2.17 (7.0%); and mammogram 1.90 (3.1%).

 

[For full access to the study, click on the American Journal of Managed Care link, above.]

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