Not Contagious

Consumer-driven health plans may help lower the cost of employee health care, but employees don't seem interested in using them.

By one measure, consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are booming; by another, they appear to be nearly DOA. A survey by the National Business Group on Health and Watson Wyatt Worldwide found that 38 percent of the 573 large companies studied now offer CDHPs, up from a minuscule 2 percent just five years ago. But employee acceptance is lagging: only 8 percent opted for CDHPs last year, up just one percentage point from the previous year. A recent report from The Conference Board also found that acceptance of such plans is low; it cites poor communication by employers regarding the usage and potential savings of CDHPs as a major factor in their slow acceptance. CDHPs attempt to rein in health-care costs by giving employees more responsibility for spending on health care, and, in theory at least, by giving them adequate information to shop wisely. The plans typically feature high deductibles and a tax-advantaged spending account. Experts say it’s too soon to tell whether CDHPs will succeed.

Premiums for CDHPs Are Often Much Lower*

36% substantially less

33% moderately less

17% slightly less

8% No difference

4% slightly greater

2% moderately greater

*Compared with other health plans offered at the same company

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