Employee Communication Greatest CDHP Challenge

August 7, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ninety percent of employers responding to a new study conducted jointly by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the RAND Corporation cited employee communication as their greatest challenge in introducing consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) and during the first year of CDHP implementation.

Employers, on average, said they began communicating information about the new plan to workers four months prior to open enrollment, according to a press release on the study results.

The study found that getting employees to enroll in these plans can be difficult when they also have more traditional health plan options and employers were most likely to achieve high levels of CDHP enrollment when they devoted additional time and resources to communication, required employees to make an active choice at open enrollment, and offered financial incentives to enhance the appeal of the CDHP.

Another communication challenge when offering a CDHP cited by respondents is providing workers with information they need to help make good decisions about health care cost and quality. According to the press release, the study found employers are generally pleased with Web-based, out-of-pocket cost calculators for employees, but find that specific resources needed to help workers evaluate the cost and quality of care from specific providers are often lacking.

Only 2% rated cost information about health care providers as excellent, and 5% rated it as good. Additionally, only 10% rated information on the quality of care as good and none rated it as excellent.

“While their early experiences are favorable, the success of the plans will ultimately hinge on whether employers can provide employees with decision support tools that will empower them as engaged consumers,” said Roland McDevitt, director of health research at Watson Wyatt and co-author of the study, in the press release.

The multi-year study was based on 42 large employers that offer a CDHP.

For more information go to www.rand.org/health .