Use of Consumer-Driven Health Plans on the Rise

September 7, 2004 ( - Consumer-driven health plans are on the rise, largely in response to double-digit health cost increases, according to a recent survey by Deloitte Consulting.

Almost one in five companies (19%) surveyed now have consumer-driven health plans in which employees have greater financial responsibility for their health care costs, according to the Deloitte Consulting survey. This is up from 11% just one year ago and the rate of growth is expected to continue. An additional 14% of surveyed companies expect to offer a consumer-driven plan by 2006.

Over 50% of companies claimed that health costs had risen at least 11% in the past year, leading many to search for more cost-efficient ways in which to provide health plans. “A double digit increase in the number of companies offering a consumer- driven health plan clearly demonstrates that these types of plans are rapidly gaining acceptance,” asserts Steven Kraus, principal-in-charge of Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice in Chicago, in a news release. “With double-digit annual cost increases, companies are reaching the limits of their ability to fund traditional health insurance. Cost shifting isn’t working either. Executed properly, consumer-driven health plans will transform care by rewarding employees, employers, providers and payers for doing the right thing.”

Those companies that have already commenced consumer-driven plans – usually in the form of health saving accounts, flexible spending accounts, or medical savings accounts, all of which are tax-free accounts meant to be used for medical reasons – see a high rate of satisfaction. According to the Deloitte survey, 60% of employees utilizing consumer-driven health plans are satisfied, 32% are neutral, and only 8% are unsatisfied. However, enrollment in plans is somewhat low, with 62% of respondents admitting that less than 20% of their employees were enrolled in the plan.