CDHP enrollees healthier

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

New research about consumer driven health plans finds what proponents of the plans have long lamented: Enrollees in CDHP plans are better educated and healthier than others.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute analyzed enrollees in both CDHP and traditional plans and concluded that those in CDHPs tend to have higher income, more education, and be in better health.

Consumer driven health plans — which typically consist of health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts — have been on the rise over the last decade. About 26.1 million individuals with private insurance, representing 15 percent of the market, are either in a CDHP or an HSA-eligible plan.

EBRI found that CDHP enrollees consistently report better health status than traditional-plan enrollees, exhibit better health behavior with respect to smoking, obesity and exercising (except for 2010 and 2011). The CDHP population was more likely to be in households with $100,000–$149,999 in income in most years of the survey, and was roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have college or post-graduate educations in nearly all years of the survey.

Breaking down the data further, EBRI found:
  • The population of adults within CDHPs, high-deductible health plans, and traditional health plans was split about 50–50 between men and women in 2013.
  • In most years, CDHP enrollees were less likely than those with traditional coverage to be between the ages of 21 and 34.
  • In the earlier years of the survey (2005–2009), CDHP participants were more likely than the general population to have coverage through small employers (between two and 49 employees), though more recently (2010–2012), there were no statistically significant differences by employer size between the CDHP population and that of the population with traditional coverage.
  • In 2013 the CDHP population was more likely than the population with traditional coverage to have coverage through an employer with 500 or more employees.
For the report, EBRI researchers analyzed data between the enrollees going back to 2005.

Despite the findings, the reasons why CDHC enrollees have certain differences still isn’t clear.

“It cannot be determined from the survey whether plan design had an impact on health status, smoking, exercise, or obesity rates, or whether those attributes influenced plan choice,” said Paul Fronstein, report author and director of EBRI’s health research and education program.

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