More CDHPs prompt more actionable info

Employers use CDHPs to control costs but more focus needs to be on giving members more actionable information.

U.S. employers expect healthcare cost increases to hold steady at 6%, and more plan to adopt consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) in 2010 in an effort to control cost increases, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey also found that:
• Approximately half of companies now offer workers a CDHP, up from 47% in 2008, and another 8% are expected to adopt a CDHP by 2010.

• CDHPs are helping employers control costs-companies with at least half of their workers enrolled in a CDHP have a two-year cost trend (4.6%) that is 25% lower than non-CDHP sponsors (6.1%).

• Two-thirds of employers (67%) cite the poor health habits of their employees as a considerable challenge to managing their health costs.

• While companies will be taking a close look at benefit offerings because of the recession, most do not plan major changes.

• Nearly 30% of employers have revamped their healthcare strategy with another 30% planning to do so in 2009.

The growth in CDHPs has made it more important than ever for health plans to provide their members actionable information on to navigate the healthcare system, according to Peter Goldbach, MD, president and chief executive officer of Med-Vantage Inc., a healthcare software solutions company, in San Francisco, Calif. “Members using these plans are incented to be smart consumers, but that’s a difficult task if they are not provided with the information they need to make wise choices.”

Medical costs continue to rise, yet our willingness as a nation to adopt alternative methods to stay healthy continue to lag,” according to Luis Araten-Castillo, director of marketing for Sourcetone Interactive Radio streaming music therapy service located in New York. “There need to be more . . . therapy outlets to help people become more effective workers, lose less time from work, decrease illness and possibly reduce reliance on medications to reduce anxiety and pain, and to increase memory and attention,” Araten-Castillo says.