Despite substantial regulatory efforts to improve consumer information regarding health and health care, little is known about the impact of such efforts on consumer behavior. This article examines the effect of federal legislation to enhance consumer information regarding the use of life-sustaining technology in end-of-life medical treatment decision making. Using a unique set of data abstracted from the medical records of six hundred elderly patients in nursing homes, the study finds a substantial impact of the law in promoting improved documentation of patient wishes for end-of-life medical care. Further, the data reveal that the effect of the law varies among identifiable subgroups. Consistent with the theory of search, the article demonstrates that the effects of regulatory efforts that promote the public provision of consumer information are greatest among individuals for whom information is most beneficial but for whom private search is costly. Implications for health policy are discussed.

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