Lower Satisfaction in Consumer-Directed Health Plans

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<p>Americans enrolled in "consumer-directed" health plans--a relatively new type of health coverage designed to make people more cost-conscious--are less satisfied with their coverage than those with comprehensive health insurance, according to a <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=19804&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D326359%26%23doc326359">new survey</a> sponsored by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) and The Commonwealth Fund. People with consumer-directed health coverage are also less likely to recommend the plans to a friend or colleague, the survey finds.<br><br>Frequently billed as the latest big idea in health insurance, consumer-directed health care is intended to encourage patients to make informed decisions about purchasing health care based on cost and quality. High-deductible health plans of $1,000 or more for individuals and $2,000 or more for families are combined with tax-preferred health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements, which are used to pay for medical expenses not covered by the plans.<bR><Br>While consumer-directed plan enrollees seem to exhibit more cost-conscious behavior in their health care decisions, they are more likely than those covered by comprehensive insurance to avoid or delay getting needed medical care, the survey reveals. When they do get care, consumer-directed plan enrollees encounter larger financial burdens.<br><bR>"This survey finds that consumer plans do, in fact, significantly raise consumer sensitivity to costs and reduce use," say EBRI's Paul Fronstin and the Fund's Sara Collins, the coauthors of the survey report. "But the survey also demonstrates that cost-related reductions in demand are highest among those with the most to lose--those who are sick and those who have low incomes."</p>