Consumer-driven health plans linked to health savings accounts remain the CDHP of choice, according to a survey released Monday, November 16, by Aon Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.
Of 370 respondents to the survey, the unit of Chicago-based Aon Corp. said 44 percent of employers now offer a CDHP to employees, compared with just 28 percent in 2006. Of those offering CDHPs, 56 percent use the HSA model, 35 percent link CDHPs to health reimbursement arrangements, and 9 percent use both.
According to the survey, the portion of employers offering HSA-linked CDHPs has risen from 48 percent in 2006 to 56 percent today, while the number offering HRAs has fallen from 43 percent in 2006 to 35 percent.
“HSAs have grown in popularity relative to HRAs since HSAs are considered more advantageous to the employee than an HRA,” John Zern, director of Aon Consulting’s health and benefits practice, said in a statement. “With an HSA, employees can contribute to their own money, the account is owned by the employee and is portable at termination of employment. HSAs also have great tax advantages.”
For CDHPs linked to HSAs, the survey found that 66 percent of employers contribute money, up from 60 percent last year. About 15 percent of employers contribute less than $500 per person, 45 percent contribute $500 or more, and 6 percent match an employee’s contribution.
Employers offering an HRA-linked plan make a variety of contributions, with 49 percent contributing between $500 and $799 to the account of a single employee and 34 percent providing more than $1,000 per year.
Sixty-three percent of surveyed employers have more than 10 percent of their workforce enrolled in a CDHP, compared with the 53 percent in 2006 that had more than 10 percent of workers participating in a CDHP.
“In our 2006 study, 66 percent of employers believed their employees did not enroll in the plan because they feared out-of-pocket expenses associated with high deductibles, and while this perception is lower this year, there is still room for improvement,” Bill Sharon, leader of Aon Consulting’s national consumer-driven health practice said in a statement. “Employers who have higher enrollment have designed their CDH plan to have similar out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles as traditional health plans such as [an] HMO or PPO.”
While only 17 percent of employers in the survey have entirely replaced their health care plans with CDHPs, “we expect that number to increase next year,” Sharon said.