Consumer-Directed Health Care and the Chronically Ill

Insurance plans with consumer-controlled spending accounts are advocated as tools for reducing health costs and empowering consumers. This Article describes their recent development and argues that they are likely to fail. Instead of focusing on the small number of consumers with chronic illnesses who account for the bulk of health spending they focus on the majority of relatively well consumers. This Article proposes market-based and regulatory changes focused on high-cost patients. To best serve cost and quality goals, health finance responsibility should be divided between consumers and their employers for predictable and routine costs, and government for chronic and catastrophic costs.