Employers, Families Save Money With CDHPs

Two recent studies, from health insurer Aetna and nonprofit research firm RAND Health, show that employers and families can save money by implementing and enrolling in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs). And, these types of plans are growing, according to another recent study from investment firm Devenir.

Employers Save Money

Employers that replaced their traditional health benefits with CDHPs saved nearly $350 per member per year, according to Aetna. The 9th Annual Aetna HealthFund study noted that the lower health care costs result in savings of $20.8 million over a six-year period for every 10,000 members.

Aetna also found that members with Aetna HealthFund plans spent less on most types of health care services, including specialist doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and total pharmacy costs. Despite lower overall health care costs, members with Aetna HealthFund plans received routine preventive care from their primary care doctors 11 percent more than members with traditional preferred provider organization (PPO) plans. Aetna HealthFund members also had higher rates of screenings for cervical cancer (nearly 7 percent higher), colorectal cancer (8 percent), and prostate cancer (10 percent), as well as mammograms (6 percent) and immunizations (3 percent).

Employers that completely transitioned their employees to Aetna HealthFund plans saw the most dramatic cost savings, the study noted. However, employers who simply offered Aetna HealthFund plans as an option still saw significant reductions in their health care costs. The employers that offered an Aetna HealthFund plan option saved more than $190 per member per year for members enrolled in all health plan options.

For more information, visit http://www.aetna.com.

Families Save Money

Families that switched from a traditional health plan to a CDHP spent an average of 21 percent less on health care in the first year after switching than similar families remaining in traditional plans, according to RAND Health. The study, Skin in the Game: How Consumer-Directed Plans Affect the Cost and Use of Health Care, noted that two-thirds of the savings came from initiating fewer episodes of care; one-third came from spending less per episode. The study also found that enrollees cut back on the use of some beneficial services, including preventive care, such as cancer screenings, even though such care was fully covered under CDHPs.

RAND Health noted that the number of Americans in CDHPs is expected to grow significantly. In 2011, approximately 17 percent of families receiving health coverage through an employer are enrolled in a CDHP. The researchers estimated what would happen to the U.S. health care system if 50 percent of the employer-sponsored health insurance market was enrolled in a CDHP. The study found that if this occurred, annual health care costs would fall by an estimated $57 billion. That decrease would be the equivalent of a 4 percent decline in total health care spending for the nonelderly.

For more information, visit
http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/2012/RAND_RB9672.pdf.

HSA Accounts Grow

Health savings accounts (HSAs) have grown to an estimated $15.5 billion in assets representing over 8.2 million accounts at year-end 2012, according to Devenir. The Year-End 2012 Devenir HSA Study noted that this was a year-over-year increase of 22 percent in accounts and a 27 percent increase in assets since 2011.

The study also found the following:

• The average HSA balance grew to $1,879, a 4 percent increase fro m$1,807 in 2011. When zero balance accounts are eliminated, the average rises to $2,283, the study noted.

• Total contributions to HSA accounts are estimated to have reached $13.2 billion in 2012.

• HSA investment assets reached $1.7 billion in 2012, a 55 percent increase since 2011.

For more information, visit http://www.devenir.com.

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