NU Online News Service, Oct. 14, 2004, 6:01 p.m. EDT

“Consumer-driven” health plans could generate almost 8% of 2005 commercial group premium revenue.[@@]

Milliman Inc., Seattle, has published that forecast in a preliminary report on its latest managed care industry survey.

Milliman researchers define a consumer-driven health plan as one that combines high-deductible health coverage with health reimbursement arrangement, a health savings account or some other type of personal health account.

The New York Times published an article Wednesday arguing that health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements have gotten off to a slow start in the group health market.

But the Milliman researchers found that 89% of the managed care company executives who have submitted responses so far say their companies already offer or will offer a consumer-driven health plan to employers within the next year, up from 29% a year ago.

CDH plans already generate 3.2% of commercial group premium revenue, and they could account for 7.8% of commercial revenue next year, according to the managed care executives.

The Milliman researchers also found that 42% of survey participants now say their companies offer different levels of coverage for different “tiers” of provider or will introduce tiered provider networks within the next year, up from 17% a year ago.