Nov. 30, 2016

New Pulse Article – ‘Consumer-Directed Health Plans: The Other Side of the Story’

According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than a quarter of employers offer consumer-directed health plans (CDHP). To be sure, there’s a chance that consumers in CDHP plans will bear greater costs if utilization is high. Yet it’s also true that premiums for CDHPs are generally lower, and the plans typically allow employees to use pre-tax dollars for health care expenses. Further, many employers seed the accounts with money as an added benefit.

The upshot: Workers could spend less overall, between premiums and out-of-pocket costs, says Tom Meier, vice president of market solutions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

The data suggest that having employees pay their own way, at least to a greater degree than before, prompted them to think twice before seeking optional care and shop around for the lowest price for services that are needed. There was no evidence to suggest that members were any less healthy for having done so, Meier said.

For this balance to hold, it’s crucial that employees, once in a CDHP, become active shoppers for health care, Meier said. That’s because the deductible exposes them to the true cost of many of the services they receive. Those costs can vary within a region, sometimes significantly, and they don’t always correlate with high-quality care.

Want to learn more? Check out the full CDHP article on Pulse, our digital magazine.