Some members of the oldest federal employee “consumer-directed health plan” may be having trouble getting used to the plan.
Researchers at the U.S. Government Accountability Office have published survey data supporting that argument in a report on employee experience at a health reimbursement arrangement-based plan established by the American Postal Workers Union in 2003.
The APWU HRA plan now covers about 9,500 federal employees and a total of about 21,000 people, according to the GAO researchers.
“Enrollee satisfaction with the APWU CDHP was mixed compared to enrollee satisfaction with the other FEHBP plans,” GAO researchers write in a summary introducing the report.
Members of the APWU CDHP were more satisfied than members of new, traditional FEHBP health plans, but they were less satisfied than members of national FEHBP preferred provider organization plans, the researchers write.
GAO researchers prepared the report at the request of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the most senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.
All CDHPs in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program covered a combined total of only about 38,000 employees, retirees and dependents at the beginning of 2005, according to the GAO researchers.
But Baucus asked for the report because of concerns expressed that CDHPs might cause problems for members and drive up costs at traditional plans by luring away younger, healthier federal employees.
Members of the APWU CDHP and ordinary national FEHBP PPO plans reported similar levels of satisfaction with timeliness of care and provider communications.
The APWU CDHP earned lower marks on a measure of satisfaction with claims processing, but there the APWU CDHP was comparable to other new federal plans.