Patients in Consumer-Driven Health Plans More Involved in Their Healthcare

December 17, 2014
Laura Joszt, MA
Laura Joszt, MA

Laura is the editorial director of The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) and all its brands, including The American Journal of Accountable Care®, Evidence-Based Oncology™, and The Center for Biosimilars®. She has been working on AJMC® since 2014 and has been with AJMC®'s parent company, MJH Life Sciences, since 2011. She has an MA in business and economic reporting from New York University.

Although just 15% of the US population is enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan, these individuals are more involved in their healthcare, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Although just 15% of the US population is enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP), these individuals are more involved in their healthcare, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

In 2014, 26 million individuals with private insurance were enrolled in CDHPs: 11% are in a high-deductible health plan and 74% are in more traditional health insurance coverage. CDHPs are a combination of health coverage with high deductibles and tax-preferred savings or spending accounts used to pay out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

The 2014 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) found that CDHP enrollees were more cost conscious in their decision making compared with individuals in traditional plans. When picking their health plan, CDHP enrollees were more likely to use resources and they were more likely to use cost information before getting care.

“The data show that CDHP enrollees are more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to take advantage of various wellness programs, such as health-risk assessments, health-promotion programs, as well as biometric screenings,” Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Education and Research Program and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “It’s also clear that financial incentives matter more to CDHP enrollees than they do to traditional-plan enrollees.”

CDHP enrollees were more likely to check whether the plan would cover care, ask for a generic drug instead of a brand name, talk to their doctors about prescription options and costs, and develop a budget to manage healthcare expenses.

Compared with individuals in traditional plans, CDHP enrollees were also more likely to take advantage of various wellness programs, such as health promotion programs.

Financial incentives also play a larger role for CDHP enrollees. They were more likely to report their employer offered a cash incentive or reward for participating in a wellness program.

“The incentives of CDHPs are designed to promote heightened sensitivity to cost in individual’s decisions about their health care,” Mr Fronstin and co-author Anne Elmlinger from Greenwald & Associates, wrote in the report. “Yet the ability to make informed decisions is highly dependent on the extent to which people have access to useful information.”

While CDHP enrollees were more likely to try to find cost information than traditional plan enrollees, they were equally likely to have found information.