Success of CDHPs Hinges on Incentives Offered and Communication

August 9, 2006 ( - Consumer-driven health care will be far more effective if consumers are given incentives to use the plan and taught how to use it, a recent study suggests.

A survey of 20,000 insurance agents and brokers by the National Association of Health Underwriters, an organization that represents the survey participants, and ChapterHouse, a health care consulting firm, found 16% of employers are shelling out more into these accounts than they are saving on insurance premiums.

This type of health care is part of a shift toward putting more of the responsibility for health care costs in the hands of consumers, with the hope they will make wise decisions on the prices and the services they need if they are doling out their own money. A recent survey, released by Buck Consultants, found that employers see it as a way to rein in costs (See Study: Employers See CDHPs as Course to Lower Health Care Costs).

The Buying Trends Study found similar attitudes from employers, who think a consumer-driven approach is the best way to bring down medical costs.

“Creating real financial incentives is the best way to make consumer-directed health care work,” said NAHU Executive Vice President and CEO Janet Trautwein, in the release on the survey. “If we want employees to be active participants in their own care, then we must make it financially worth their while to do so.”

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

  • 41% of respondents claim employers overwhelmingly rate consumer-directed health plans as the best way to impact medical costs, but only 29% are planning to offer them in the next year.
  • 85% of respondents cited “enrollment communication and support” as the main barrier to offering these plans.
  • 85% percent of respondents do not feel many consumer-directed health plans are adequately providing tools such as online tools, a single access point and provider cost.
  • While a majority of respondents believe that employees will take an increased role in the decision-making process, 80% think that employers will continue to be the primary decisionmaker in terms of plan selection.

For a copy of the survey, go here .