Consumer Satisfaction Rises for CDHPs, Still Trails Traditional Plans

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Sep 6, 2013

Update: See Satisfaction Gap Slims Amid Traditional and CDH Plans, posted 8/18/2014

Americans with health insurance appear to be warming up to consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), while the greater

popularity of traditional health plans is slipping, according to research by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

The report, Satisfaction with Health Coverage and Care: Findings from the 2012 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, was published in the August 2013 issue of EBRI Notes.

CDHPs include high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that are linked to employee-owned health savings accounts (HSAs)—to which employers and workers can contribute pretax dollars—and plans with health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), funded and owned by employers. CDHPs aim to provide employees with a monetary incentive to make cost-conscious decisions when they select health care services. (To learn more, see the SHRM Online articles “Misunderstanding HSAs Poses Open-Enrollment Hurdle” and “Consumer-Driven Decision: Weighing HSAs vs. HRAs.”)

Based on seven years of surveys, EBRI found that traditional-plan enrollees remained more likely than those in CDHPs to be extremely or very satisfied with the overall plan in all years of the survey. However, satisfaction levels trended up in most years among CDHP enrollees and trended down among traditional-plan enrollees.

Among the survey findings:

  • Overall satisfaction levels among CDHP enrollees increased from 43 percent to 48 percent between 2010 and 2012.
  • Satisfaction rates for traditional enrollees decreased in most years, falling significantly from 2009 (66 percent) to 2011 (57 percent). However, in 2012 they increased a bit, to 62 percent.

Impact of Out-of-Pocket Costs

Satisfaction rates for out-of-pocket costs remained higher among those with traditional coverage than among those with a CDHP or an HDHP without a savings account. But "regardless of plan type, satisfaction with out-of-pocket costs was consistently low,” wrote Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education program and author of the report. “However, satisfaction rates do appear to be trending upward for those with a CDHP.”

Initial differences in satisfaction rates with respect to the quality of care received have disappeared between traditional-plan and CDHP enrollees, the reported noted, and there were high satisfaction rates concerning access to doctors, regardless of plan type.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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