Activating Consumers with Financial Control: Lessons from Health Savings Accounts

Wendy Lynch

Posted 3/6/12 on the Altarum Institute Health Policy Forum

Health Savings Accounts are growing up. No longer an oddity, millions of families have accounts funded by tens of thousands of employers (1). After almost a decade, the cumulative evidence about consumer-directed health plans is quite compelling. For those waiting and wondering if CDHPs “work,” three recent reports provide a convincing answer.

The Chief Medical Officer for Cigna health plans said this about one study: “Each year the evidence increasingly shows that properly designed consumer-driven health plans can lower health risks, reduce medical costs and drive engagement. The data once again shows that the combination of incentives, easy-to-engage health programs and consumer decision support tools can improve health while reducing costs.” (2)

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Consumer Engagement in Health: Greater Cost-Consciousness and Demand for Cost/Quality Information

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Posted 12/14/11 on Health Populi

People enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) are more likely than enrollees in traditional health insurance products to be cost-conscious. In particular, CDHP members check prices before they receive health care services, ask for generic drugs versus branded Rx’s, talk to doctors about treatment options and their costs, and use online cost-tracking tools.

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Employers Will Offer More Consumer-Directed Health Plans in 2012; They Should Enhance Tools, Too

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 8/22/11 on Health Populi

The good news: U.S. employers’ forecast their health benefit costs will grow at a slower pace in 2012 than in 2011, 7.2% versus 7.4%. The bad news: that’s only a 0.2% slowdown, and it’s still twice the rate of overall price inflation.

Furthermore, workers’ wages have been stagnant over the year, and the price of food and home goods haven’t stayed even, either.

The National Business Group on Health’s survey of American employers finds that managing health costs continues to be a front-burner issue for business. Controlling those costs is a strategic imperative for businesses, large and small. Thus, in 2012, employers will put an even sharper focus on tactics to bring health care costs down — that is, their health care costs. Workers’ costs for health will rise, as a result.

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The Myth of Consumer-Directed Care


Originally published 1/13/11 on Health Populi

The theory behind “consumer-driven health care” is that when the health care user has more financial ‘skin in the game,’ they’ll become more informed and effective purchasers of health care for themselves and their families. That theory hasn’t translated into practice, based on data from the Employee Benefits Research Institute’s (EBRI) latest Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey.

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