EBRI Notes

Survey of Consumer-Driven Health Plans Raises Key Issues

Feb 2, 2006 12  pages


Survey released at policy forum: Four issues dominated the December 2005 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) policy forum, which was devoted to the release of a ground-breaking survey on consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and discussion of the results. The survey was sponsored by EBRI and The Commonwealth Fund to get a fix on how consumers are reacting to consumer-driven health plans, the latest big idea in health insurance. The four issues:

  • Future of consumer-driven health plans: Some speakers said the health insurance market is demanding CDHPs because of their cost-saving potential, and predicted they are here to stay. Others thought CDHPs will fade, like managed care. Several speakers said it is too early to draw definitive conclusions from the survey results.
  • Consumerism satisfaction levels: The survey finding that individuals with comprehensive health insurance were more satisfied with their health plan than individuals in consumer-driven health plans or high-deductible plans (HDHPs) prompted considerable discussion among policy forum speakers, with views often diverging on the causes and meaning of the finding.
  • Delayed or avoided care: The survey finding that individuals in CDHPs and HDHPs were significantly more likely to avoid, skip, or delay health care because of costs troubled many policy forum speakers. The impact was particularly pronounced among individuals with health problems or incomes under $50,000.
  • Cost-conscious decisions/information access: While the survey showed individuals in consumer-driven plans are making cost-conscious decisions—as intended—it found that information to help consumers make those decisions is difficult to obtain. This result, which undercuts one of the core principles of consumer-driven care, produced one of the liveliest discussions at the policy forum but no agreement on the implications of the finding.