Findings from the 2009 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey

December 2009
EBRI Issue Brief #337
Paperback, 44 pp.
PDF, 1,997 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2009

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Executive Summary

FIFTH ANNUAL SURVEY: This Issue Brief presents findings from the 2009 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, which provides nationally representative data regarding the growth of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and the impact of these plans and consumer engagement more generally on the behavior and attitudes of adults with private health insurance coverage. Findings from this survey are compared with four earlier annual surveys.

ENROLLMENT LOW BUT GROWING: In 2009, 4 percent of the population was enrolled in a CDHP, up from 3 percent in 2008. Enrollment in HDHPs increased from 11 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2009. The 4 percent of the population with a CDHP represents 5 million adults ages 21–64 with private insurance, while the 13 percent with a HDHP represents 16.2 million people. Among the 16.2 million individuals with an HDHP, 38 percent (or 6.2 million) reported that they were eligible for a health savings account (HSA) but did not have such an account. Overall, 11.2 million adults ages 21–64 with private insurance, representing 8.9 percent of that market, were either in a CDHP or were in an HDHP that was eligible for an HSA, but had not opened the account.

MORE COST-CONSCIOUS BEHAVIOR: Individuals in CDHPs were more likely than those with traditional coverage to exhibit a number of cost-conscious behaviors. They were more likely to say that they had checked whether the plan would cover care; asked for a generic drug instead of a brand name; talked to their doctor about prescription drug options, other treatments, and costs; asked their doctor to recommend a less costly prescription drug; developed a budget to manage health care expenses; checked prices before getting care; and used an online cost-tracking tool.

CDHP MORE ENGAGED IN WELLNESS PROGRAMS: CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional plan enrollees to report that they had the opportunity to fill out a health risk assessment, whereas they were equally likely to report that they had access to a health promotion program. CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional plan enrollees to participate when a program was offered. Among those not participating, they did not participate because they could make changes on their own; they lacked time; and they were already healthy.

FINANCIAL INCENTIVES MATTER: Financial incentives for healthy behavior mattered more to CDHP enrollees than traditional plan enrollees. Financial incentives were a larger factor for CDHP enrollees than for traditional plan enrollees when it came to participating in wellness programs, choice of doctor, and the use of health information technology, as well as patient engagement using e-mail and the Web.

HEALTH STATUS IS BETTER, INCOME HIGHER: Adults in CDHPs were significantly less likely to have a health problem than were adults in HDHPs or traditional plans. Adults in CDHPs and HDHPs were significantly less likely to smoke than were adults in traditional plans, and were significantly more likely to exercise. People in CDHPs were also less likely to be obese compared with adults enrolled in a traditional health plan. Adults in CDHPs were significantly more likely than those with traditional health coverage to have a high household income. CDHP and HDHP enrollees were also more likely than traditional plan enrollees to be highly educated.