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No doubt, health care costs are on a lot of people's minds. The average family with employer-provided insurance now pays $3,350 in annual premiums, up from $1,540 in 1999, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest survey of employer health benefits.

And costs are likely to get worse unless we change the way we pay for and use health care.

Well, today, the Employee Benefit Research Institute released a survey that asked regular folks just how to make those changes. Among the results:

  • 58% support lower cost sharing for patients who actively participate in a program to maintain or improve their health.
  • 40% support lower cost sharing for patients who use treatments that are scientifically proven to be effective for their medical condition.
  • And 34% support lower cost sharing for patients who choose to see high-performing health care providers.

The findings are interesting for a couple of reasons.

For one, the Obama administration has suggested that one way to rein in Medicare and Medicaid costs is to identify procedures that have proven to be effective--and provide funding accordingly. (See these stories in the NYTimes and the New Yorker for more.)

Second, the survey results don't favor only people in good health. Rather, they suggest that we want to reward smarter decisions about medical care, whatever our needs are.

What do you think? Can we control costs by taking a harder look at the effectiveness of care?

-Carolyn Bigda