Patients who are given a small cash incentive payment are more likely to see a primary care provider within six months of gaining insurance coverage than patients who are not, a new AHRQ-funded study showed. The study, published this week in Health Affairs, may demonstrate a successful method of encouraging early and regular contact with a primary care provider. In the study, researchers gave approximately 1,200 newly insured patients in Virginia varying small cash incentives (up to $50) to visit an assigned primary care provider. They found that approximately 75 percent of patients who received incentives visited their provider within 6 months, compared with 68 percent of those who only received payment for completing a baseline survey. By contrast, just 61 percent of the approximately 400 patients given no incentive visited their provider in that time.The authors concluded that cash incentives may be a cost-effective way to steer low-income, newly insured patients toward primary care, which could result in improved health outcomes and lower costs. Access the abstract.
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