Although consumer-directed health care has become a fashionable concept in recent years, stories abound asking whether the so-called free market in health care can provide adequate access to quality health care at an affordable price. In spite of these concerns, consumer-directed health care continues as the face of legitimacy behind an industry-driven campaign to limit regulatory protections of the consumer in the market and encourage the growth of health insurance products that place spending options closer to the consumer, whether or not these options are available, affordable, or easily understood. Understanding whether this empowerment is real begins with first asking what it now means to be a health consumer. This commentary offers perspective on the dilemma faced by millions of Americans in navigating our health care system under the assumption that market-driven choices foster consumer empowerment in health care, and suggests approaches for expanding the true consumer voice.


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pp. 671-676
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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