Ill Effects of Consumer Driven Health Plans

A new study, jointly authored by the Employer Benefit Research Institute and Commonwealth Fund show that the public is still wary of consumer-driven and high-deductible health plans — and with good reason.

Consumer-driven and high-deductible plans were defined as plans with deductibles of at least $1,000 (individual) and $2,000 (family). These plans also had two savings options — the Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Account.

The study shows that:

  • nearly 10 million individuals had such plans last year — approximately 8 percent of the population. Nearly 90% of those had deductibles high enough to qualify for a Health Savings Account, but did not have one.
  • many consumers could not afford to contribute to Health Savings Accounts.
  • nearly half (44%) of adults with CDHPs/HDHPs spent more than 5 percent of their income on health care — double the amount of people in comprehensive plans.

The study also echos other academic research on the health and behavioral impacts of those who have high-deductible plans, in that they delay care because of cost.

Another important point is that few resources were available to people with these plans to make good cost and quality choices.

This report, coupled with this Fitch prognosis for for-profit hospitals in 2007 (the next blog) provide very interesting insight as policymakers in California — particularly Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — explores the option of consumer-directed health plans.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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