Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution?

September 2002, Vol. 23, No. 9
Paperback, 12 pp.
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2002

Executive Summary

Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution?—A return to double-digit annual growth in health benefit costs is fueling interest in new structures for employment-based health benefits. The basic goal of these structures—whether they are called consumer driven or defined contribution—is to control costs by delegating more direct responsibility to consumers (and beneficiaries) of health insurance. Advocates say this could reduce consumer resentment caused by restrictions common to managed care plans, while critics say the plans will only shift health care costs away from the employer and onto the worker. This article examines some of the implications of greater cost sharing and consumer-driven models as discussed by policymakers, leading thinkers on benefits, employers, and labor representatives at EBRI's May 2002 policy forum. Topics discussed include the theory behind the new models, the role of managed care in a consumer-driven world, the need for patient information, and the role of public policy.