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Measuring the Impact of Consumer Directed Health Plans
Consumer directed health plans (also known has high-deductible health plans- HDHP) have grown in popularity in recent years, raising questions about whether they will lead to savings or added health care costs down the road. Today, 80 percent of plans purchased through ACA Exchanges are HDHDPs and one in three plans offered by employers are HDHPs. Neeraj Sood, director of research at the Schaeffer Center, has lead a series of investigations into the cost trends associated with these plans.
Sood and his colleagues found HDHPS resulted in overall reduced health care costs up to three years after large employers introduced the plan option. They found savings were primarily driven by reductions in outpatient care and drug spending and there was little or no effect on emergency room or inpatient spending. But, understanding in more detail where these cost savings are coming from is critical to understanding long-term health care costs and the potential effects of these plans on an individual’s health.
In a second paper, the researchers assessed how consumers respond to enrollment in a HDHP through analyzing their pharmaceutical spending and use patterns. They found evidence of a reduction in overall drug utilization by new enrollees, sparking concern about the impact on chronic disease management.
Finally, using a survey, Sood and his team found that while most HDHP and non-HDHP enrollees say out-of-pocket costs matter, in actuality few shop for care.
Moving forward, Schaeffer Center researchers are continuing to analyze the impact of HDHP enrollment on health care cost trends and health outcomes.