The number of people choosing consumer-directed health plans continued to grow in 2011, reaching 7 percent of people with private insurance. Consumer-directed or consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are high-deductible plans paired with health savings accounts (HSAs). Individuals pay into HSAs with pre-tax income, reducing their tax burdens. The plans are intended to give consumers more control over their health care spending and to make them more sensitive to health costs because they pay for more of their own care.

Not only are more people enrolling in consumer-directed plans, more people are happy with their coverage, say a brief and survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

From 2006 to 2011, the satisfaction levels of consumer-directed plan enrollees caught up to those of people enrolled in traditional health insurance with health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and other managed care plans.

Some highlights from the EBRI survey and brief:

  • 71 percent of respondents in 2011 with consumer-directed plans was satisfied with the quality of care, matching the 71 percent satisfaction among those with traditional health plans. Satisfaction among people with consumer directed plans increased 8 percentage points since 2006, whereas satisfaction decreased 5 percentage points among those with traditional plans.
  • 41 percent of those with traditional plans was satisfied with their out-of-pocket expenses, compared to only 24 percent who said so for consumer-directed plans and 16 percent for high-deductible plans without HSAs.
  • 57 percent of respondents with traditional health coverage was satisfied overall, a drop of 10 percentage points since EBRI’s 2006 survey.
  • 46 percent of respondents with consumer-directed plans was satisfied overall, up from 37 percent who said so five years before. 37 percent of those with high-deductible plans without HSAs was satisfied overall in 2011.
  • The proportion of people with high-deductible plans without HSAs increased from 14 to 16 percent of the privately insured population from 2010 to 2011.

The EBRI’s findings are based on its annual EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, an online poll of roughly 2,000 adults from 21 to 64 years old. Dr. Paul Fronstin, director of the EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program, has written the reports since the EBRI began conducting this survey in 2005.

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Kip Piper is a Medicare, Medicaid, and health reform consultant, speaker, and author.  A senior consultant with Sellers Dorsey and Fleishman-Hillard, Kip advises health plans, hospitals and health systems, states, drug and device manufacturers, and investment firms throughout the U.S.  For more, visit KipPiper.com.  Follow on Twitter at @KipPiper and connect with Kip on LinkedIn.