WASHINGTON, November 15 - U.S. employers are increasingly turning to consumer-driven health plans such as health savings accounts with the expectation they will help control rising health care costs, according to a Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey of American employers released today.
The survey of 316 employers found that 43 percent of respondents either have a consumer-driven health plan in place (22 percent) or will be offering one in the next two years (21 percent). Another 51 percent said they are reviewing consumer-driven options and may offer one in the near future if they can be proven to be attractive to employees while saving money.
"By offering consumer-driven health plans, businesses believe they will reduce spending by making employees smarter shoppers for health care," said Tommy G. Thompson, the independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "These plans are increasingly attractive as health care costs continue to threaten companies' bottom lines."
The survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and Deloitte Consulting LLP found that employers believe that giving employees more control over their health care dollars would make them more financially responsible, and therefore reduce overall health care costs:
*77 percent of those surveyed said they expect consumer-driven plans to change employee purchasing patterns by making them aware of the true cost of health care, while 8 percent said they will not.
* 56 percent of those surveyed said consumer plans will result in immediate employer cost savings, while 27 percent said they will not.
* 43 percent of those surveyed said consumer plans will reduce the long-term health cost trend, while 24 percent disagreed.
Under a consumer-driven health plan, employees determine how their health care dollars are spent. In many cases, employers provide some funding and a range of benefit options for the employee. In addition, employees typically can contribute more money to buy higher levels of coverage.
Consumer-driven health plans typically complement other managed care plans also offered by employers. Examples of consumer-driven health plans include health reimbursement account plans or high deductible managed care plans with health savings accounts. Sixty-three percent of the respondents with plans in place offer a health reimbursement account plan, while 31 percent offered a health savings account.
"Companies that have real-life experience with consumer-driven health plans are particularly upbeat about the current and future impacts of consumerism," said Barbara Gniewek, a principal within Deloitte Consulting. "As more employers report early success with these plans, acceptance and understanding of this model will grow."
Companies that already have consumer-driven health plans in place report widespread satisfaction among employees and managers. The survey found:
* 51 percent said their employees are satisfied with the plans, while 15 percent said employees were dissatisfied, and 33 percent said they were neutral.
* 71 percent said senior management is satisfied with the plans, while 3 percent said senior management was dissatisfied, and 26 percent said they were neutral.
* 69 percent said the human resources department is satisfied with the plans, while 13 percent said the human resources department is satisfied, and 17 percent said they were neutral.
Gniewek said it is important for companies to aggressively expand enrollment in consumer-driven health plans if they are to succeed. "We believe that unless a company can recruit at least 20 percent of its employees to join early on, the company may not reap the cost and quality benefits offered by these plans," Gniewek said, adding that companies can take several steps to increase the likelihood of success:
* Adopt effective recruitment strategies, such as making the consumer-driven health plan the lowest priced employee option.
* Gain in-depth knowledge of the new health care delivery models and whether the market will accept them.
* Consider long-term limitations on the employer's liability and how new plan models may help achieve that goal.
* Assess management and employee readiness to accept consumer-driven health plans in the workplace.
* Project health care costs under various health plan scenarios.
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About the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, located in Washington, D.C., is part of Deloitte & Touche USA, LLP. The Center is led by Independent Chairman Tommy G. Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Wisconsin.
The Center is focused on delivering research and solution development for our nation's most pressing health care and public health related challenges, focusing on prevention and wellness programs, the uninsured, adoption of health information technology, Medicare and Medicaid.
Director, National Public Relations,
Britton McMullian Josey
National Public Relations
both for Deloitte Services LP
Web site: http://www.deloitte.com/us