CDHP Enrollees Less Likely To Be Young: EBRI

New research from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) contradicts the common assumption that consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) enrollees are more likely than those with traditional coverage to be young, because they use less health care, on average. EBRI’s analysis of CDHPs over the past seven years finds that in most years, CDHP enrollees were less likely than those with traditional coverage to be between the ages of 21 and 34. CDHPs consist of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), paired with a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health savings accounts (HSAs).

“It is very difficult to generalize the differences in characteristics among CDHP enrollees, high-deductible enrollees, and individuals with traditional coverage, but a few differences stand out,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program. “The study found that people who enroll in CDHPs do typically seem to be in better health, with higher education and higher incomes than those with traditional coverage.” Similar results were found in comparing the HDHP population with traditional-coverage enrollees, according to EBRI.

HDHP enrollees were more likely than those with traditional coverage to be ages 35 to 44 only in 2010, and other than in 2011, there were no differences in the percentages between the ages of 45 to 54.

Using annual consumerism in health care surveys EBRI has conducted since 2005, EBRI finds:

• CDHP enrollees have consistently reported better health status than traditional-plan enrollees.

• CDHP enrollees were roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have college or post-graduate educations in nearly all years of the survey.

• The CDHP population was more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to be in households with $150,000 or more in income in every year except 2009 and 2010.

• Few differences in plan enrollment type were found by race.

• In the earlier years of the survey (2005 to 2009), the CDHP population was more likely than the population with traditional coverage to have that coverage through small employers (between two and 49 employees), but more recently there have been no statistically significant differences by employer size between the CDHP population and that of the population with traditional coverage.

Previous EBRI research has found that growth of CDHPs has been slow, but steady. By 2012, 36 percent of employers with 500 or more workers offered either an HRA- or HSA-eligible plan, covering 16 percent of that population, up from the 32 percent that offered such a plan and 13 percent enrollment a year earlier. As a result, about 25 million individuals with private insurance, representing about 14.6 percent of the market, were either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible plan last year.

The article, Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005-2012, was published in the April EBRI Notes. For more information, visit http://www.ebri.org/publications/notes/index.cfm?fa=notesDisp&content_id=5198.

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