CDHPs not Delivering Promised Cost Savings

April 2, 2008 ( - Milliman, in partnership with the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), in the industry's first independent, risk-adjusted study of six employers' consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) found that CDHPs deliver cost savings that are only modestly over non-CDHPs - specifically 1.5%.

According to the study report, based on paid claims, the employer-paid experience for the CDHPs was about 50% lower than that for non-CDHPs, but due to cost sharing, the reduction was really about 20%. The report also said some of the cost savings was due to employees not utilizing services due to the higher out-of-pocket cost for them.

Milliman decided a better analysis of the cost savings would be based on “allowed claims.” The report said the study data was also adjusted for the fact that cost savings to employers is sometimes shifted to employees, for age/sex compositions of study participants, for the fact that healthier people tend to choose CDHPs (See CDHPs not Living up to Hype ), and for the differing costs of health care in different geographies.

After adjusting for risk and plan design factors, the study found a cost savings of 4.8%, but after adjusting for the high deductibles associated with these plans, the savings was 1.5%.

The report said most of the savings can be attributed to the decreased utilization high deductible plans encourage. Milliman noted that CDHPs’ promise of reducing costs “will not be fully realized until easy-to-use consumer research tools providing cost and quality measures becomes available to members.” (See Health Plans Driven by Uneducated Consumers Doomed to Fail )

The Milliman report is here .