Consumer driven health plans continue to grow in popularity despite a waning impact on cost control, according to preliminary results in a recent United Benefits Advisors survey.

From 2009 to 2010, CDHPs increased from 13.9% to 22.9% of plans offered, and now cover more employees than Health Maintenance Organization plans (17.3% vs 11.9%),  says Bill Stafford, UBA vice president of member services.

The survey finds that the Northeast U.S. has the greatest concentration of CHDPs, at 31.1% of plans, followed by the Southeast at 27.4%.

Employers are offering employees higher levels of health reimbursement arrangement, health savings account or contribution funds to offset CDHP out-of-pocket costs. The survey finds the average employer contribution to an HRA is $1,656 for a single employee ($175 more than in 2010) and $3,198 for a family ($341 more than in 2010).

The more troubling data suggest the plans’ reliance on health service consumerism has not made them immune to core dynamics that are driving up expenses for broker clients.

“For the first time in more than seven years of reporting, CDHPs nationally did not create a savings over the clients’ in-force plan prior to renewal. This year experienced an increase [of] 2.1%, albeit less than the average 8.2% increase of all plans,” says Stafford. “As these plans become more prevalent, the percentage of savings has continually declined.”

“We anticipate that in spite of passage of health care reform efforts, health care costs will continue to increase. There still needs to be concerted efforts to change or alter the underlying health care issues that control costs,” he adds.

UBA lays claim to the nation’s largest health plan benchmarking survey, with 16,421 plans from 10,744 employers. Among its other key findings from the survey:

  • The renewal increase for all plan types on average was 8.2%
  • PPOs continue to dominate, covering nearly two-thirds of all enrolled employees.
  • The employee contribution for all plans types on average is $117 for a single participant and $467 for a family
  • Eighty percent of all wellness plans offer an assessment of health risks
  • Sixteen percent of all plans offering unlimited lifetime maximum benefit before health care reform criteria has now significantly increased to 81.3%
  • Eighty percent of all plans in the Northeast have 100% coinsurance
  • Of all covered employees 49.9% elected to cover their dependents

The 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey will be available to UBA member firms on Nov. 1.

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