Financial Burden of Healthcare Utilization in Consumer-Directed Health Plans

Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), which are high-deductible plans connected to health savings accounts, have increased in popularity among employers as they look to reduce healthcare costs. Yet, a new study found CDHPs may negatively affect the financial health of enrollees. The study found enrollment in CHDPs was associated with a mean marginal increase in out-of-pocket spending of $285 after the first year of enrollment, with a larger marginal increase for the lower-income and those with chronic conditions ($306 and $387, respectively). Furthermore, the authors found that more than half of the lower-income subgroup and more than one-third of the chronic conditions subgroup faced excessive financial burden (defined as spending more than 3 percent of income on healthcare) from out-of-pocket spending after enrollment in a CDHP. These findings suggest that for certain enrollees, CDHPs may negatively affect their financial and/or physical health in the long term, even though premiums for these plans may be lower.

The full study available at the American Journal of Managed Care.

Citation: Zhang, X., Trish, E., & Sood, N. (2018). Financial burden of healthcare utilization in consumer-directed health plans. The American journal of managed care24(4), e115-e121.