NU Online News Service, Sept. 19, 3:24 p.m. – The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, has put out a second report questioning whether the new, widely publicized “consumer-driven” health plans will do much to control increases in health coverage costs.

The typical consumer-driven health plan combines high-deductible, catastrophic health insurance with employer-funded personal health reimbursement accounts. Plan rules usually give employees a great deal of control over expenditures of HRA funds.

EBRI researchers put out an issue brief in July describing their own doubts about the practicality and appeal of the concept, and now they have published a summary of outside experts’ attacks on the concept in a September research note.

The EBRI researchers based the second report on views expressed at a consumer-driven health plan conference that EBRI held in May.

Consumer-driven plan organizers say they can control costs by giving consumers more information and more choices.

But employers, labor representatives and others at the May conference argued that the consumer-driven health plans will do little but shift costs onto individual workers, away from health plan sponsors, the EBRI researchers write.