By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
The percentage of the population with a high deductible health plan (HDHP) continues to increase, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates. The 2019 Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey found that in 2019, 15 percent of privately insured adults had a plan that was associated with either a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health savings account (HSA), collectively known as consumer-directed health plans (CDHP). Another 13 percent had a HDHP that was not associated with either an HRA or HSA.
When it comes to choice of health plan, most people focus on the network of health care providers, easy access to health care, low out-of-pocket costs, prescription drug coverage, low premiums, simple to understand, and specific coverage included in the plan. The provider network and access to health care were ranked higher in importance than lower cost of premiums or low out-of-pocket costs. Generally, traditional plan enrollees and HDHP enrollees rank these aspects of health care in the same order, with one exception: The survey found that traditional plan enrollees report that low out-of-pocket costs for doctors’ visits are more important. Of lesser importance is low cost of premiums when selecting a plan. However, HDHP enrollees report that low premiums are more important than low out-of-pocket costs when selecting a plan.
“It is clear that HDHP enrollees value low premiums over low out-of-pocket costs, while traditional plan enrollees value low out-of-pocket costs over low premiums,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s health research and education program. “It is therefore not surprising that traditional plan and HDHP enrollees behave differently when it comes to their health care.”
Engagement. Consumers enrolled in an HDHP were more likely than those with traditional coverage to say that they had checked whether the plan would cover care or medication ; checked the quality rating of a doctor or hospital before receiving care; checked the price of doctor’s visits, medication or other service before receiving care; talked to their doctors about other treatment options and costs; talked to their doctors about prescription options and costs; used an online cost-tracking tool provided by the health plan; developed a budget to manage health care expenses; or declined a medical procedure because of costs.
In addition, when it comes to prescription drug use, those in an HDHP were more likely than those with traditional coverage to have asked for a generic drug instead of a brand name; or asked their doctor to recommend a less costly prescription drug.
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