Studies Reveal Workers in HDHPs Pay Significantly Higher Annual Healthcare Costs

March 2017 ~

Two separate studies investigated why consumers respond to high-deductible plans by using less healthcare services, which in turn leads to a decrease in doctor visits and clinical laboratory test orders.

One of the studies was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in partnership with the Healthcare Research and Educational Trust (KFF/HRET), and the other by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). Both studies investigated the dynamics behind trends in the healthcare marketplace leading to these questions.

As reported in DARK DAILY, the KFF/HRET “2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey” noted only a modest increase in employers’ healthcare insurance costs in 2016. However, it was noted that healthcare costs for workers have increased dramatically over past years as a result due, in part, to employees moving to plans with high-deductibles in an effort to keep premiums affordable. It was found that as more financial responsibilities are assumed for their own health services, consumers are accessing less care.

According to the KFF/HRET survey, deductibles have risen on average 12% since 2015, and have increased by 49% since 2011. If this trend continues, KFF/HRET predicts those deductibles will continue to rise. However, according to the KFF/HRET report, though deductibles have increased, premiums rose to 3.4% in 2016. In 2016, about 29% of all workers were in HDHPs, a 20% increase from 2014.

The analysis by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) “Consumer Driven Health Plans: A Cost and Utilization Analysis,” examined insurance-claims data from people covered by employer-sponsored insurance plans between 2010 and 2014.

It was found that over that time period, people on the high-deductible plans, also called consumer-driven health plans, used 10% fewer health-care services. Even though these consumers used fewer medical services overall, it was found that they paid more out-of-pocket costs annually. People on the high-deductible plans spent an average of $1,030 out of pocket on health care, versus $687 paid by people in more traditional plans.

“In terms of watching for the future, I think we can see this lower utilization trend,” noted Amanda Frost, senior researcher at the Health Care Cost Institute. “But given how new all of this is — the new prevalence of these plans, the newly identified reduction-in-service-use trend — I think it’s going to be interesting to watch and see what the health implications of this are.”


Source(s): DARK DAILYHealth Care Cost Institute; Kaiser Family Foundation;