Study Suggests HDHPs Not Working As Intended

HDHP participants are putting off care which could result in greater costs down the road and only 41% say they are better health care consumers.

Employers like high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) because they transfer more of the costs of health care to employees, and many employees choose these plans for the lower premiums, or upfront cost.

However, a survey commissioned by is finding that HDHPs are not working as intended. For one thing, 64% of respondents said they delayed care because they didn’t want to pay the high deductible. Putting off necessary care could result in much higher costs down the road.

Les Masterson, managing editor of, says health insurers and employers will need to make sure they are implementing plans and programs that actually don’t cost more money in the long run.

In addition, a key part of HDHPs is the idea of creating better health care consumers—one reason HDHPs are often called consumer driven health plans (CDHPs) because the idea is to educate the health care consumer so he/she can make better health care decisions (and save money in the process). But, the survey found mixed results.

Most respondents said they are getting more information from their health insurer (63%) and doctors (61%) to make them better health care consumers. Sixty percent said they shop around for health care services, which is a positive response for HDHPs. However, only 41% of respondents said they now consider themselves better health care consumers.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents have an HDHP. Forty-five percent said they chose an HDHP because it was the most cost-effective option; 37% said it made sense for their situation; and 16% said their employer only gave them an HDHP choice.

NEXT: Employees say they are not saving on health care costs

Though many chose an HDHP because of cost, most respondents said having an HDHP didn’t actually save them money. Sixty-two percent said health care costs either increased or stayed the same in a HDHP compared to their previous plan. Thirty percent said their health care costs decreased.

Most respondents said their deductibles are between $1,501 and $2,000, while 20% said it’s more than $2,000, and 8% said it’s less than $1,500. notes that an important piece of an HDHP is its associated health savings account (HSA), which allows members to contribute pre-tax money to an account that can be used for health care costs. Employers often also contribute to these accounts.

Respondents reported contributing the following amounts to their HSAs:

  • 38% said they contribute between $1,001 and $2,000 to an HSA annually;
  • 30% put in $500 to $1,000;
  • 14% put it $2,001 to $3,000; and
  • 5% contribute more than $3,000.

Respondents also reported their employers are contributing to these accounts:

  • 32% said their employer contributes between $500 and $1,000;
  • 31% of respondents’ employers put in between $1,001 and $2,000;
  • 16% get nothing;
  • 8% get less than $500; and
  • 3% receive more than $3,000. commissioned OP4G to survey nearly 2,000 people nationwide in June 2016. More information is here.