Findings From the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey

December 2011
EBRI Issue Brief #365
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 959 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011

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Executive Summary

SEVENTH ANNUAL SURVEY: This Issue Brief presents findings from the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey. This study is based on an online survey of 4,703 privately insured adults ages 21-64 to provide nationally representative data regarding the growth of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and the impact of these plans and consumer engagement more generally on the behavior and attitudes of adults with private health insurance coverage. Findings from this survey are compared with EBRI’s findings from earlier surveys.

ENROLLMENT CONTINUES TO GROW: The survey finds continued growth in consumer-driven health plans: In 2011, 7 percent of the population was enrolled in a CDHP, up from 5 percent in 2010. Enrollment in HDHPs increased from 14 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2011. The 7 percent of the population with a CDHP represents 8.4 million adults ages 21-64 with private insurance, while the 16 percent with a HDHP represents 19.3 million people. Among the 19.3 million individuals with an HDHP, 38 percent (or 7.3 million) reported that they were eligible for a health savings account (HSA) but did not have such an account. Overall, 15.8 million adults ages 21-64 with private insurance, representing 13.1 percent of that market, were either in a CDHP or were in an HDHP that was eligible for an HSA but had not opened the account. When their children are counted, about 21 million individuals with private insurance, representing about 12 percent of the market, were either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible plan.

MORE COST-CONSCIOUS BEHAVIOR: Individuals in CDHPs were more likely than those with traditional coverage to exhibit a number of cost-conscious behaviors. They were more likely to say that they had checked whether their plan would cover care; asked for a generic drug instead of a brand name; talked to their doctor about treatment options and costs; talked to their doctor about prescription drug options and costs; developed a budget to manage health care expenses; checked a price of service before getting care; and used an online cost-tracking tool.

CDHP ENROLLEES MORE ENGAGED IN WELLNESS PROGRAMS: CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional plan enrollees to report that they had the opportunity to fill out a health risk assessment, and they were also more likely to report that they had access to a health promotion program. CDHP enrollees were also more likely to report that they had been offered a cash incentive or reward to participate in a wellness program when a program was offered. HDHP enrollees were less likely to report having the opportunity to fill out a health risk assessment and to have access to a health promotion program.

FINANCIAL INCENTIVES MATTER: When it comes to participating in a wellness program, CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional plan enrollees to take advantage of the health risk assessment but not the health promotion program. Among those participating, the reasons they gave were that they were offered incentive prizes and reduced premiums. Among those not participating, the reasons they gave were that they could make changes on their own; they lacked time; and they were already healthy. Financial incentives were more a factor for CDHP enrollees than for traditional plan enrollees when it came to participating in wellness programs.

CONSUMER USE OF TECHNOLOGY: A significant portion of the population reported using a smartphone, and 1 in 5 reported using a tablet. Among them, about one-quarter reported using an app for health-related purposes. Among those not using an app, nearly one-half were interested in using one.