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Life Health > Health Insurance > Life Insurance Strategies

Firms Find Resistance To Health Account Programs

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Some employers and employees may be shying away from health plans that incorporate health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.

Researchers at a unit of Medco Health Solutions Inc., Franklin Lakes, N.J., and PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Pittsburgh, are reporting evidence of resistance to HSAs and HRAs in summaries of results from two separate survey efforts.

The Medco researchers commissioned a survey of 200 public and private plan sponsors with 1,000 to 15,000 employees.

Although 24% of the participating employers said they already have health account plans, only 11% of the employers that do not have health account programs said they intend to offer the programs within the next 3 years, the Medco researchers report.

About 30% of the participants said the health account programs might increase costs, by discouraging patients from getting needed care, the researchers report.

Meanwhile, 82% of the participants said adding wellness or disease management programs is either important to critically important to controlling health care costs.

The PNC researchers commissioned a study of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 150 hospital executives and 50 insurance company executives.

The PNC researchers found that 55% of the consumers surveyed through the Web had heard of health account plans but that only 19% said they would be highly likely to enroll in a health account plan if it were offered.

Only 56% of the consumers already in high-deductible health plans said they wanted to re-enroll in the plans again, the researchers report.

But the PNC researchers found that the health account movement does appear to be increasing consumers’ interest in knowing more about the cost of care.

About 85% of the consumers interviewed said they believe that hospitals and doctors should be required to disclose the cost of medical services to the public, and more than half said that knowing what hospitals and doctors charge for specific treatments and exactly what insurers pay would influence where they seek care, the PNC researchers report.


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