Members of “consumer-driven health plans” and ordinary high-deductible health insurance plans may be getting less information about the cost of care than members of traditional plans are getting.[@@]
Researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and The Commonwealth Fund, New York, have published data supporting that conclusion in a report based on responses from a Web-based survey of a total of 1,061 health plan members ages 21 to 64.
The final sample included 337 adults with high-deductible health coverage but no health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts. The sample also included 168 members of “consumer-driven health plans,” or programs that combined high-deductible health insurance with HRAs or HSAs.
The researchers note that they had to make special efforts to get a large sample of HRA and HSA holders: although about 10% of the respondents in their original sample of 1,204 adults had high-deductible health coverage with no personal health accounts, only 17 individuals, or 1.4% of the respondents, had high-deductible coverage combined with personal health accounts.
Survey participants with CDHP coverage tended to be somewhat older, healthier and higher-income than holders of conventional health coverage. Although only 21% of the CDHP members were in the 21-34 age category, compared with 29% of the traditional health plan members, 92% of the CDHP members said they were in good, very good or excellent health, compared with 87% of the traditional plan members.
About 21% of the CDHP members reporting having annual household incomes greater than $100,000, compared with 18% of the traditional plan members.
The CDHP members were also highly educated, with 67% stating that they hold bachelor’s degrees. Only 34% of the traditional plan members said they had college degrees.
Holders of ordinary high-deductible coverage ranked somewhere between traditional plan members and CDHP members in terms of education and income.
Even though the CDHP members had incomes and college degrees, only 63% said they were extremely or very satisfied with their health plans, compared with 72% of the traditional plan members.