Consumer-Driven Health Care Plans Grow by 25%: BCBS Study

A significant study on the effects of Consumer-Driven Health Care (CDHC) was released on Monday at the National Consumer Driven Health Summit in Washington, DC. The study presented by the BlueCross BlueShield Association said that enrollment in these types of health plans – launched as a way to increase consumer engagement – has increased more than 25% in the last year.

More significantly, the study showed that members who enroll in Consumer-Driven Health Plans (CDHPs), especially when coupled with a Health Savings Account (HSA), which is at least partially funded by their employer, are becoming more cost-conscious consumers. For example, 90% of those in CDHPs reported asking a doctor about the cost of treatment compared to 33% of non-CDHP members. Likewise significant numbers of the CDHP members reported that they chose a lower cost treatment option, used mail order pharmacies, and searched the internet for lower priced prescription drugs.

The study also found other behaviors were significantly different for those in the HSA plans. More tracked their health care expenses and planned for future expenses. HSA-eligible enrollees also reported being more engaged in health and wellness including getting screenings, engaging in exercise, paying attention to good nutrition, and working with health coaches.

Also significant is the fact that the study showed that HSA-eligible enrollees were not skimping on care. In fact, they use more preventive services, and their use of necessary care mirrors non-CDHP population.

To view a PowerPoint presentation of the surevy results go to: http://www.bcbs.com/news/bluetvradio/consumerdriven2008/

Heath Plan Innovation Take: This study reinforces the vale of well designed HSA-type health plans in their ability to change behavior and to lower costs. Future policy makers would be foolish to turn their backs on a solution that is beginning to prove itself to be effective in controlling costs and improving care.

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