Members in Consumer-driven Health Plans Seen More Educated, Healthier, Wealthier

New findings of a study of members enrolled in consumer driven health plans has found that those individuals tend to have higher incomes, higher educational levels, and report better health behavior than do those in traditional health plans.

The report was produced by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The study examined trends over the 2005–2011 period.

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) generally consist of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) with either a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or Health Savings Account (HSA).

As of 2011, some 21 million individuals, representing about 12 percent of the market, were either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible health plan, the report said.

“Consumer-driven health plans are a growing presence in the health insurance market, so it’s important to understand how they differ from traditional health plans,” observed Paul Fronstin, author of the report and director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program.

He said it is “often assumed that CDHP enrollees are more likely to be young than those with traditional coverage, because they use less health care, on average. However, in most years, the survey found that CDHP enrollees were less likely than those with traditional coverage to be between the ages of 21 and 34.”

Other findings from the EBRI report include:

  • CDHP enrollees were roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have a college or post-graduate education. HDHP enrollees were also more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to have a college or graduate degree.
  • CDHP enrollees have consistently reported better health status than traditional-plan enrollees.
  • During the survey period, HDHP enrollees have been consistently less likely than those with traditional coverage to report that they smoke, but no recent differences were found in exercise rates, and differences were not found in obesity rates.

For more information following is a link to EBRI’s news release:

http://www.ebri.org/pdf/PR968.26Apr12.CDHPs.pdf

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