Robin Wright King on Consumer Reactions to HDHPs

Robin Wright King, MBA, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, discusses consumer reactions to high-deductible health plans, which ask them to shoulder more of the burden of the cost of their healthcare.

Robin Wright King, MBA, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, discusses consumer reactions to high-deductible health plans, which ask them to shoulder more of the burden of the cost of their healthcare.

Transcript (modified)

How do consumers react to the new health plans that ask them to shoulder more costs?

I don’t believe members are excited, generally, about the concept of having to shoulder more of the cost, but these high-deductible health plans are here to stay. And employers are trending towards engaging in these higher deductible health plans more and more. As a matter of fact, many employers are moving to these plans as full replacement plans. Again, we really have the responsibility—and many employers want us as a health plan to be more involved—to help their members understand their plans.

As we move forward in using some of these plans for those members who use a high-deductible health plan and an HSA [health savings account], in addition to obviously having to share or shoulder more of the cost, what employers are doing is giving their employees more money to put into these accounts. But then there’s a significant education piece around these accounts.

So HSAs are being used today to help members save and pay for medical expenses. In addition HSAs are now being used to help employees save for retirement, to support medical costs in retirement, and so this is really a more significant conversation that employers are perhaps having with employees alongside the 401(k) conversation. So while employees are certainly beginning to understand, and they’re experiencing the dilemma of having to pay more while they are enrolled in these plans, they understand the plans are here to stay; and it’s important also that they understand that there is a long-term benefit to the HSA plan because those HSA dollars can be used to support medical costs in retirement.