CA Workers Are Not Up On Consumer Driven Health Plans

February 26, 2003 ( - Eighty-five percent of Californians have never heard of a consumer driven health plan (CDHP), yet many like the plans when they're described.

Even after a description of a CDHP was given to the survey participants, only one in seven said they had heard of such a plan.   Further, a meager 3% could answer that they knew someone enrolled in such a plan, a study commissioned by California Health Decisions (CHD), in partnership with Aetna, Kaiser Permanente CA, and Sutter Health, found.

When CDHPs were described as “flex plans” or “health care spending accounts” that give consumers more responsibility for managing their own benefits, the opinion was mixed.   Nearly half (46%) of respondents found them “very” or “somewhat” appealing, with the exact same sample finding them “not too” or “not at all” appealing.   Those more likely to be interested in a CDHP were younger, unmarried, non-college educated and healthy individuals.

The Good

The majority of those surveyed (86%) found favorable the feature that would allow them to roll over unused funds in their health savings accounts from one year to the next.   In addition, access to quality and cost information on physicians and hospitals appealed to 76% of those surveyed and the ability to use funds to pay for dental and vision care appealed to 80% of those surveyed.

While control and choice issues gained high marks for these new plans, other factors were less appealing. Only 35% were willing to accept higher deductibles in exchange for lower premiums and about the same number were unwilling to pay higher fees to see an out of network doctor. Two-thirds of the respondents supported adding CDHPs to the other kinds of health plans offered by their employers, yet many of those who indicated a favorable interest in the plans expressed a generalized concern that they would lose something. Many also indicated a strong need for unbiased comparative information.

Plan sponsors interested in obtaining a copy of the full report can do so  here