Survey Finds CDHP Use Ticking Up

March 11, 2010 ( - Interest in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) continues to expand among employers and their workers, according to a survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey found just over half (54%) of companies now offer a CDHP, and that number is expected to grow to 61% in 2011. Nearly half (46%) of companies that offer a CDHP report at least 20% of their workers enrolled – an increase of nearly 70% in five years.

Companies with higher levels of CDHP enrollment also report lower costs, according to a press release. Those with at least 50% of their workers enrolled in a CDHP report average annual costs per employee of nearly $1,000 less than at non-CDHP companies. Similarly, nearly 60% of survey respondents indicate their workers pay premiums that are at least 30% less than those for traditional copay plans.

Other survey findings include:

  • In 2010, 38% of companies will offer a health savings account (HSA), with an additional 7% expected to do so in 2011.
  • In 2010, 46% of employers will provide coverage for use of retail clinics, up from 36% in 2009.
  • In 2010, 57% of employers will encourage plans and providers to provide workers with access to online medical records, up from 54% in 2009.

Getting Tough with Employees

Frustrated with workers' low use of expensive health improvement programs, employers are cracking down on who gets health incentives, the Towers Watson/NBGH survey found.

According to the press release, currently, more than half (53%) of large employers offer financial incentives to workers who enroll in health engagement activities, such as weight management or smoking cessation programs; however, for many employers, participation alone is no longer enough to earn an incentive. Now, more than one-third of employers (37%) reward only those workers who meet the company’s requirements for completion of a health engagement activity, and almost one-third (29%) only reward members who participate in multiple activities.

Preliminary results of the survey showed 67% of employers identify employees’ poor health habits as a top challenge to maintaining affordable benefit coverage (see More Employers Make Health Program Changes to Control Costs). More than half (58%) indicate the biggest obstacle to changing employees’ health-related behavior is the lack of employee engagement, followed by lack of sufficient financial incentives to encourage participation (31%) and lack of an adequate health management program budget (30%).

Despite their frustrations, the survey found most employers (93%) have no plans to eliminate their health promotion programs, and 83% have no plans to cancel or delay adding new ones.

The 15th Annual National Business Group on Health/Towers Watson Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care was conducted from November 2009 through January 2010, with 507 employers of 1,000 or more employees that collectively employ 11.5 million workers.

The survey report can be downloaded from here.