Consumer-Driven Health Plan Participants More Cost-Conscious

Adults in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) were more likely than those in a traditional plan to exhibit a number of cost-conscious behaviors, according to new research from EBRI.

While CDHP enrollees, high-deductible health plan (HDHP) enrollees, and traditional-plan enrollees were about equally likely to report that they made use of quality information provided by their health plan, CDHP enrollees were more likely to use cost information and to try to find information about their doctors’ costs and quality from sources other than the health plan, according to the report. Moreover, CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to take advantage of various wellness programs, such as health-risk assessments, health-promotion programs, and biometric screenings. In addition, financial incentives mattered more to CDHP enrollees than to traditional-plan enrollees.

More Americans are continuing to enroll in so-called “consumer-driven” health plans: In 2012, 12 percent of the population was enrolled in a CDHP, up 3 percentage points from last year, according to the new EBRI research, while enrollment in so-called “high deductible” health plans was unchanged, at 16 percent, EBRI found. HDHPs have lower premiums but higher deductibles (at least $1,000 for employee-only coverage) than traditional health plans.

“It is clear that the underlying characteristics of the populations enrolled in these plans are different,” noted Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report. “Adults in a CDHP were significantly more likely to report being in excellent or very good health, and they were significantly more likely to exercise.” He noted that those in a CDHP and those in a HDHP were significantly less likely to smoke than were adults in a traditional plan—and that CDHP and HDHP enrollees were also more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to be highly educated.

The full report is published in the December EBRI Issue Brief, online at www.ebri.org

Satisfaction Levels Rising For Consumer-Driven Health Plans, Slipping for Traditional Plans

Satisfaction levels are rising among people enrolled in “consumer-driven” health plans, while they are declining among those in traditional health plans, according to a new report by EBRI.

However, traditional-health plan enrollees remained more likely than CDHP or HDHP (high deductible health plan) enrollees to be extremely or very satisfied with their overall plan. The EBRI report notes that dissatisfaction with out-of-pocket costs may be driving more recent satisfaction trends.

“Similar to overall rates, satisfaction rates for out-of-pocket costs appear to be trending downward among those with traditional coverage and upward for those with consumer-driven plans,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report.

The findings are from the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS), an online survey that examines issues surrounding consumer-directed health care, including the cost of insurance, the cost of care, satisfaction with health care, satisfaction with health care plans, reasons for choosing a plan, and sources of health information. EBRI’s report also incorporates findings from earlier years of the survey to provide a time-series of results.

The press release is online here. The full report, published in the August 2012 EBRI Notes, is online here.

Those in Consumer-driven Health Plans More Educated, Healthier, Wealthier

Those enrolled in “consumer-driven” health plans tend to have higher incomes, higher educational levels, and report better health behavior than do those in traditional health plans, according to a new report by EBRI that examines trends over the 2005–2011 period.

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) generally consist of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) with either a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). As of 2011, roughly 21 million individuals, representing about 12 percent of the market, were either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible health plan.

The full report, “Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2011,” is published in the April 2012 EBRI Notes. The press release is online here.