“Consumer-driven” health plans can work only if consumers understand the plans.

Lois Vitt and Ray Werntz, health policy experts, make that argument in a new analysis published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington.

“Should health education initiatives prove ineffective, the ‘consumer-driven health movement’ could well be doomed, especially if it relies upon fully educated health consumers taking self-initiated actions,” Vitt and Werntz write in the analysis.

So far, there is still no consensus among health benefits planners and policymakers about whether combining high-deductible health coverage with a health savings account or health reimbursement arrangement really can help control health care costs, Vitt and Werntz write.

Some CDHP providers seem to be using a “top down” approach that ignores consumers’ personal and social values, Vitt and Wentz contend.