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Consumer-driven health plans slow to catch on, 2nd annual survey finds

WASHINGTONAmericans have not yet warmed to consumer-driven health plans, a relatively new kind of coverage that offers reduced premiums but carries higher annual deductibles. Enrollment in consumer-driven plans remains low, and satisfaction continues to lag when compared with more comprehensive health insurance, according to a survey released today by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and The Commonwealth Fund, nonpartisan organizations.

The second annual EBRI-Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey also finds that, despite the expectations of some policymakers that the lower premiums and tax benefits of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) would substantially reduce the number of people without health insurance, adults in these plans were no more likely to have been uninsured before enrolling in their plans than are those with more comprehensive insurance coverage.

Dallas Salisbury, EBRI president and chief executive officer, said, It will be interesting to see if continually rising health care costs prompt more workers to conclude that the tradeoff of lower premiums for higher deductibles, and potentially higher out-of-pocket costs, is worth it. The survey does find participants in consumer-driven health plans are more cost-conscious. Clearly, the choice becomes easier when some of the drawbacks of first-generation consumer-driven plans are removed, such as lack of protection for prevention and chronic care management within the deductible that may cause patients to delay or avoid getting needed care.

Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund president, said, Despite their tax benefits, consumer-driven health plans are not attracting large numbers of adults without insurance coverage, relative to other insurance. New strategies are needed to provide affordable and meaningful insurance to the nations 47 million uninsured.

A full report on the survey is published in the December 2006 EBRI Issue Brief. The
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
7-Dec-2006


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