NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

'CONSUMER-DRIVEN' HEALTH PLANS FINDING FAVOR

February 15, 2007

Consumer-driven health plans, touted as a cure for the nation's health-care woes, seem to be catching on in Kansas City, says the Kansas City Star.

Consider:

  • An estimated 10 percent of area employees signed up for the leading-edge plans in 2006, according to a survey released Tuesday by Mercer Health & Benefits; that compares with 3 percent participation nationally.
  • Only Indianapolis beat Kansas City, with 14 percent of employees signing up for the two varieties of consumer-driven plans -- health savings accounts (HSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), Mercer officials said.
  • Kansas City's participation rate, up from 5 percent in 2005, based on survey responses from 44 area employers, including 25 that employ more than 500 people.

Some Kansas City area companies have even made consumer-driven health plans the sole options for employees.  Cerner Corp., for example, offers only HRAs and HSAs as a way to save the company money by giving workers incentives not to use too much health care.

Julie Wilson, chief people officer at Cerner, says Cerner's goal is to beat health-care inflation by a third to a half. "If health-care costs are going up 12 percent and if we can be at 6 to 8 percent, that would be our goal."

Others agree.  "If you're going to offer plans that encourage your employees to be informed consumers of health care, then you need to do it the way Cerner is doing it," said William L. Bruning, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care.

Source: Julius A. Karash, "'Consumer-driven' health plans finding favor," Kansas City Star, February 14, 2007.

 

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