Workers Aren't All Walking the Walk in CDHPs

November 17, 2004 ( - Workers may say they believe in the concept of consumer-directed health plans, but that doesn't mean they walk the walk in addition to talking the talk, a new survey found.

A Hewitt Associates news release said that Hewitt’s national survey of more than 39,000 employees found that while 93% of employees indicate that they are comfortable taking on more responsibility for health care decisions, most don’t put that into practice. More than 80% don’t estimate their health care expenses each year, and 79% do not believe that they can personally take action to help control these expenses.

Further, more than half (57%) have never researched provider costs or quality and nearly a quarter (24%) have never asked about their prescription drug options. Further, less than half say they do a great job of taking preventative medicines, screening tests or immunizations recommended by their doctor, and those in the poorest health are least likely to do so.

“It’s no wonder that health care costs are increasing at such a dramatic pace when you look at how few people are actively involved in managing their personal health,” noted Jennifer Murphy, Hewitt health care communication leader, in the press release. “While it’s great to hear that employees are willing to move toward a more consumer-oriented system, this is a wake-up call that we need to help employees move to a place where they are researching and understanding their health care choices, giving these important decisions as much attention as they deserve.”

The survey indicates that employees need more help from their companies about finding sources of support. More than 50% do not know if they have access through their employers to prescription, hospital or physician cost/quality data. Another six out of 10 aren’t sure whether they have online access to condition/disease-management tools, medical expense estimators or general and company-specific information on rising health-care costs.

Hewitt’s survey also reveals that employees believe the government should be responsible for taking a more active role in helping them become buyers of health care by:

  • mandating reporting of quality data by hospitals and physicians (90%)
  • requiring public disclosure of doctor fees (67%)
  • taking action to hold down medical malpractice awards (66%)
  • allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from foreign countries (62%).

The poll also found that, with support, employees feel that they can be better and more cost-efficient health consumers. Specifically, they are highly confident that they can talk to doctors about treatment and prescription options (81%), decide when to seek a second opinion (71%), do research to better understand their conditions (69%), choose the best physician

(65%) and select the best hospital for their needs (63%).