CDHPs Second Most Common Plan Offered To Employees: Aon Hewitt

A growing number of employers offer or plan to offer consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) to employees, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. In fact, the 2013 Health Care Survey found that CDHPs have become the second most prevalent plan offered by employers after preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and could potentially surpass PPOs as the most common plan type offered in the next three to five years. In 2013, 56 percent of employers offered CDHPs as a plan choice, and another 30 percent are considering offering one in the next three to five years.

While only 10 percent of employers offered CDHPs as the only plan option, Aon Hewitt found that another 44 percent are considering doing so in the next three to five years. In 2012, employers reported at least a 2 percentage point lower cost trend for CDHP plans (4 percent) versus other plans, including PPOs (6 percent), HMOs (7 percent) and exclusive provider networks (6 percent).

“With many of the operational details of health care reform yet to be implemented, employers are confronting the realities of compliance and the significant challenges they face in controlling future health care costs,” said Maureen Fay, senior vice president at Aon Hewitt. “Employers are increasingly embracing plan designs that are cost-effective, promote consumer choice and accountability, and encourage employees to be more deliberate in how they spend their health care dollars.”

To encourage employee enrollment in CDHPs, employers are using a variety of tactics, including subsidizing premiums at a higher level than they do for other plan options (44 percent), making the high-deductible health plan the default plan option (22 percent), and covering preventive medicines before the deductible applies (44 percent).

A growing number of employers are also considering offering elective benefits that reduce consumers’ short-term fears that they will not be able to afford a catastrophic illness in the long-term if they have a plan with a high deductible. While just 9 percent offer elective benefits in conjunction with a CDHP today, another 44 percent of employers are considering adding this type of coverage in the next three to five years.

Satisfaction and behavior change. More than three-quarters of consumers currently enrolled in a CDHP were satisfied with their plan choice (78 percent) and 89 percent said they planned to re-enroll. Of those employees who had been in a CDHP for more than two years, 97 percent planned to re-enroll.

In addition, Aon Hewitt found a correlation between participation in a CDHP and making more informed health decisions. Sixty percent of employees who were enrolled in CDHPs said they made positive behavior changes related to their health. Twenty-eight percent said they received routine preventative care more often, 23 percent sought lower-cost health care options and 19 percent researched health costs more frequently.

“Effective CDHPs are designed to help change employee behaviors by encouraging employees to make better informed health care decisions and to take ownership for actively managing their health through prevention and lifestyle choices,” said Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer for health and benefits at Aon Hewitt. “Incentives also play a critical role in motivating employees to change behavior. Initially, extrinsic incentives help engage employees in focusing on behavior change. Over time, as healthy behavior patterns start to stick and employees feel good about the results they have achieved, employers can shift their focus more toward intrinsic motivators.”

The survey contains responses from nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers covering more than 7 million employees. For more information, visit http://www.aonhewitt.com.

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