“Consumer-Driven” Health Plans: For the Healthy and Wealthy?

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<p>Consumer-driven health insurance plans were introduced with the goal of decreasing the number of uninsured, encouraging cost-consciousness among consumers, and increasing the amount of information on the cost and quality of providers.<br><br>Yet enrollment in consumer-driven and high-deductible plans still makes up a very small segment of the overall insurance market, according to the third <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/mar/findings-from-the-2007-ebri-commonwealth-fund-consumerism-in-health-survey
">EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey,</a> released today. Enrollment in consumer-driven plans with a tax-advantaged account represented 2 percent of privately insured adults in 2007, up from 1 percent in 2006. One of 10 insured adults had high-deductible health plans without accounts.<br><br>Moreover, evidence shows that the percentage of consumer-driven plan enrollees with high incomes--above $100,000--swelled in 2007. Indeed, one of the major criticisms of these plans is that they attract wealthy and healthy participants rather than those with lower incomes and poorer health status. The survey found that consumer-driven plan enrollees are in better health, are less likely to smoke, and are more likely to exercise; they are also more likely to be white, male, and higher-income. And they are no more likely to have been uninsured prior to enrollment than adults in other plans.<br><br>While people enrolled in consumer-driven plans are significantly more likely to consider costs in their health care decisions than those in other types of plans, the differences are not always substantial. Over the three years of the survey, there have been no significant gains in the amount of information on provider cost and quality made available by health plans.<br><br>"These plans are not yet solving the problems they set out to address," says Fund assistant vice president Sara Collins, who co-authored the survey report.<br><br>Read the complete <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/mar/findings-from-the-2007-ebri-commonwealth-fund-consumerism-in-health-survey
">survey findings</a>.</p>