Those in CDH Plans More Educated, Healthier, Wealthier

By SHRM Online staff Apr 30, 2012
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People enrolled in consumer-driven health plans tied to savings accounts tend to have higher incomes, have higher educational levels and report better health behavior than do those in traditional health plans, according to an April 2012 report by the not-for-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2011.

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) generally consist of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) with an employer-funded health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA), which may be funded by the employer, employee or both (see the SHRM Online article “Consumer-Driven Decision: Weighing HSAs vs. HRAs.) As of 2011, roughly 21 million individuals, representing about 12 percent of the U.S. health insurance market, were in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible high-deductible plan.

“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,” noted Paul Fronstin, author of the report and director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program. “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 major findings in the EBRI report include:

Education.CDHP enrollees were about twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have a college or post-graduate education. In 2011, 24 percent of CDHP enrollees had a graduate degree and 48 percent had a college degree, compared with 12 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of traditional plan enrollees.

Health.In six out of seven years of the survey, CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to report excellent or very good health. CDHP enrollees were less likely to report that they smoked or did not exercise regularly, though it cannot be determined from the survey whether plan design had an impact on those self-reported factors.​

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