More Than 40 Percent of Large Companies Now Offer Consumer-Driven Health Plans

The number of employers providing consumer-directed plans is expected to continue growing. The adoption of HSAs, HRAs, is likely to continue at steady, if unspectacular, clip.

March 13, 2008
While only a small portion of companies currently offer their employees consumer-driven health plans, that number is gradually increasing as employers search for ways to confront their rising health-care costs.

Overall, roughly 7 percent of employers now offer consumer-directed health plans—including health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts—up from 6 percent last year, according to survey data from the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations.

But the number of employers providing consumer-directed plans is expected to continue growing, since 11 percent of the companies that do not offer such plans said that they are likely to begin doing so this year.

“The adoption of consumer-directed plans will certainly continue to rise at a steady clip, particularly at large companies,” said Dennis Triplett, president of UMB Healthcare Services, a health-care vendor. “Because these companies aren’t looking to replace their existing plans, they’re looking at it as a way to give employees an additional health-care option.”

Indeed, large corporations are clearly leading the overall consumer-directed charge: among companies with more than 20,000 employees, 41 percent now offer either an HSA or an HRA, compared with 37 percent last year.

The number one reason for offering either an HSA or an HRA was “lowering the organization’s benefit cost,” according to the survey.

Mercer, which conducted the survey for the AAPPO, found that on average, HSAs cost employers $5,679 per worker, for example, whereas a PPO with a high deductible runs $6,644 per employee.

In total, 12.5 million people are now covered by consumer-directed plans, up 25 percent from the end of 2006, according to the AAPPO.

Filed by Mark Bruno of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail