CDHP Enrollees Found to Be Older

April 29, 2013 ( – Employees in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are less likely than those with traditional coverage to be between the ages of 21 and 34, according to Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) data.

An EBRI analysis of CDHPs over the past seven years found that, in most years, CDHP enrollees were less likely than those with traditional coverage to be within the aforementioned age group. EBRI also found those who enroll in CDHPs typically seem to be in better health, with higher education and higher incomes than those with traditional coverage.

Similar results were found in comparing the high-deductible health plan (HDHP) population with traditional-coverage enrollees. HDHP enrollees were more likely than those with traditional coverage to be ages 35 to 44 only in 2010, and other than in 2011, there were no differences in the percentages between the ages of 45 to 54.

The research defined consumer-driven health plans as consisting of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), with a high deductible of at least $1,000 for employee-only coverage and a tax-preferred account that workers and families can use to pay for out-of-pocket health care expense, and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Using annual consumerism in health care surveys, EBRI found: 

  • CDHP enrollees have consistently reported better health status than traditional-plan enrollees;
  • CDHP enrollees were roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have college or post-graduate educations in nearly all years of the survey;
  • The CDHP population was more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to be in households with $150,000 or more in income in every year except 2009 and 2010;
  • Few differences in plan enrollment type were found by race; and
  • Between 2005 and 2009, the CDHP population was more likely than the population with traditional coverage to have that coverage through small employers (between two and 49 employees). More recently, there have been no statistically significant differences by employer size between the CDHP population and that of the population with traditional coverage.


Previous EBRI research found growth of CDHPs has been slow, but steady. As of 2012, 36% of employers with 500 or more workers offered either an HRA- or HSA-eligible plan, covering 16% of that population, up from the 32% that offered such a plan and 13% enrollment a year earlier. As a result, about 25 million individuals with private insurance, representing about 14.6% of the market, were either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible plan last year.

More information about this research is available in the article “Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2012,” which is available on the EBRI website.