Poll: Most Workers Not on Board with CDHPs

September 20, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Despite continuing efforts by employers to offer consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), a new Hewitt Associates poll found that most workers still are not managing their own treatment and are looking to their employer for guidance.

A Hewitt news release said just 34% of workers polled track their current health care expenses and less than half take the time to estimate future health care costs. Not only that, while most workers believe their companies provide enough information to choose and use their health plans, only half say they have actually used those tools.

Almost 80% of those polled worry health care coverage will ultimately be financially out of reach and more than half assert that choosing and using the best health plan gets more complex every year. The increasing level of complexity involved in choosing and using health care plans continues to be an issue for employees, particularly for those enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs).

Hewitt said that employees’ understanding of and satisfaction with these plans is low. Only 30% of employees using HDHPs with HSAs said they understood and were satisfied with their selection, while more than half said they would not choose the plans next year.

Although HSAs feature longer-term savings benefits, few people who enrolled said they were taking advantage of that aspect of the plans. Approximately 40% chose them because of the lower premium costs versus other plans, and more than two-thirds used the plans to deal with routine health expenses.

The poll found that tools such as health risk questionnaires (HRQs) can help employees more easily understand and address their health care needs. Of the employees who completed a health risk questionnaire, three-quarters said they found the results valuable. More than four in 10 said they learned something new about their health and more than half said such knowledge drove them to reduce or manage potential health risks.

However, just under a third (32%) of those who completed an HRQ said they were required to participate in any follow-up actions or activities, and less than a quarter said their spouses or partners were invited to complete one, making it difficult to assess family health needs.

The percentage of employees who said they got regular exercise, ate a balanced diet, and who regularly scheduled physicals and preventive medicines, has remained constant over the past three years, according to Hewitt.