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Consumer-Directed Health Plans

HealthLeaders magazine, September 13, 2008
Consumer-directed health plans aim to reduce healthcare expenditures by creating a financial savings vehicle for enrollees' increased out-of-pocket healthcare expenses to create incentive to spend wisely. But some early findings have raised questions about the plans' effectiveness in this regard. One study found that although increased out-of-pocket expenses were expected to lower utilization of unneeded services, CDHP enrollees reported making more visits and undergoing more procedures than non-CDHP enrollees. One explanation is that CDHP enrollees have a higher "health conscience" that prompts them to use excess services even in the face of higher out-of-pocket costs. Whatever the reason, CDHPs may need to alter their incentives and offer new forms of information to enrollees to achieve the lower expenses they seek.