Among employer-sponsored health insurance plans, consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) continue to increase in popularity despite offering less savings than a year ago, according to the 2016 Health Plan Survey from United Benefit Advisors (UBA), the nation’s largest independent survey of employer-sponsored benefits. This was announced by Leading Edge Benefit Advisors, a local UBA firm. UBA finds 26.4% of all U.S. employees are now enrolled in CDHP plans, an increase of 21.7% from last year and nearly 70% from five years ago.
Conversely, CDHP plan costs have risen 2% from last year, according to UBA. While they are still 3.5% less costly than the average plan, they offered more savings in 2015 when they were 5.6% less than the average plan.
“CDHP interest among employers isn’t surprising given these plans’ savings over the average plan,” said Les McPhearson, CEO of UBA. “Employees typically pick up 32% of the cost, slightly below the 35% average employee contribution rate among all plans, making them an attractive choice for many employees. But like all cost benchmarks, plan design plays a major part in understanding value.”
The UBA survey finds that 25.7% of plans offered by employers are CDHPs, a 14.2% increase in the last five years. Regionally, however, there are major differences in CDHP popularity.
UBA’s survey finds CDHPs account for the following percentage of plans offered by employers:
NORTH CENTRAL 32.5%
CDHPs have increased in prevalence in all regions except the West, which saw these plans decrease by 7.2% from 2015. Despite this decrease in the number of CDHPs offered in the West, there was an 18.9% increase in the number of employees enrolled, indicating the continued attraction to the lower premiums of such plans.
While most of the country is experiencing slightly increased premiums, California has enjoyed an 11.4% decrease in average single premiums, finds UBA. Employers in this part of the country are actually moving away from CDHPs and toward Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which the survey shows are 9% less costly than the average plan.
“Cost-saving strategies, like cost shifting, should be taken with a grain of salt, given the increased burdens they place on employees,” says McPhearson. “Given the higher-than-average, out-of-pocket costs of CDHPs, this turbulence in the West indicates that employers and employees are still determining the value and success of these plans, making it a cautious upward trend to watch.”
UBA’s 2016 Health Plan Survey Executive Summary is available now at http://bit.ly/UBAsurvey, or can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2016-executive-summary. Media may request a preliminary copy of results from Mercedes Lawler at Leading Edge Benefit Advisors, LLC.