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New Aon Hewitt Survey Shows Growing Prevalence Of Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Stocks in this article: AON

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill., Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) have surpassed health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to become the second most common plan design offered by U.S. employers, according to new survey findings from Aon Hewitt, the global human resource solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE:AON). 

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100719/AQ37264LOGO)

Aon Hewitt's survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. employers representing over 20 million U.S. employees and their dependents found in 2011 that 58 percent of employers offered a CDHP and 38 percent offered HMO plans. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) continue to be the most widely offered plans, with 79 percent of employers offering these plans in 2011.

Among employers that offer CDHPs, health savings accounts (HSA) outpace health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) by two to one (34 percent versus 18 percent). However, Aon Hewitt's survey shows a higher number of employees enrolling in HRAs, with 43 percent of employees enrolling in HRAs compared with 28 percent in HSAs. This reflects the fact that HRA plan designs are popular among large employers embarking on full replacement CDHP strategies, as they offer more design flexibility to the employer than HSA designs. HSAs, on the other hand, are typically offered as one of several plan options available for employees to choose between and therefore generate lower enrollments.

"As employers struggle to address unsustainable increases in health care spend, they can no longer rely on traditional methods of tweaking plan designs like increasing copays and deductibles or increasing employee payroll contributions for medical coverage," said Maureen Fay, senior vice president and head of Aon Hewitt's CDHP working group. "Employers are beginning to explore innovative solutions that focus on both the short-term need to manage health care costs and the longer-term requirement to change underlying behavior patterns, shifting the focus from 'caring for the sick' to 'actively managing the health of their employees.'  Consumer-driven health plan designs are becoming increasingly popular among employers because they provide them with a vehicle for promoting consumerism and a framework for educating and motivating employees to actively engage in understanding and managing their health."

Promoting Enrollment in CDHPs

Despite an increase in prevalence, Aon Hewitt's survey found that enrollment in CDHPs lags behind PPO and POS plans. The average enrollment in a PPO plan was 69 percent in 2011 followed by POS plans (49 percent). Forty-three percent enrolled in a high-deductible CDHP with an HRA and 28 percent enrolled in a high-deductible CDHP with an HSA.

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