Consumer Driven Health Plans: Working as Intended

New report from Consumers for Health Care Choices on the effect of Consumer Driven Health Plans:

When these programs were being considered, proponents said they would have several beneficial effects:

  1. They would increase the awareness of consumers to the cost of the care they used.
  2. That awareness and the fact that unspent money could be saved for future use would prompt consumers to be more cautious in the use of services.
  3. That new caution would result in a lower use of unnecessary care.
  4. Less unnecessary care would lower the rate of growth in health care costs.
  5. Being at financial risk would prompt consumers to pay more attention to and become more invested in the treatment programs prescribed by their physicians.
  6. Being in a position to choose how to spend their money would prompt consumers to demand better information to make better choices.
  7. Word of these favorable trends would spread, causing more employer and more consumers to embrace these programs.
  8. And, finally, consumers controlling more of the money and demanding better information would prompt new demands for health services delivery that is more accountable, more efficient, more convenient, and of better quality than we have had in the past.

Five years later, all of these predictions are being realized:

  1. Patient behavior is changing and people are being more cautious about needless use of services.
  2. Consumers are more compliant with treatment regimens, especially those with chronic conditions who are high utililizers of services.
  3. The rate of increase in health care costs is down substantially for people and groups in these plans.
  4. The demand for information, transparent prices, and patient support services is high.
  5. The adoption rate in the benefits market is sizzling.
  6. The transformation of service delivery is beginning, though still very formative. Early indicators include the growth of retail clinics, concierge medicine practices, and medical tourism.