CDHPs – New Study Says Communication is Key

There is a new study out about consumer directed health plans by Watson Wyatt and RAND Corporation.  The multi-year study was jointly funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Copies of the research brief, “The CDHP Implementation Experience with Large Employers,” are available at http://www.watsonwyatt.com/cdhp.

Not surprisingly, it points out that companies need to educate employees about how to be responsible for their care and give them tools on cost and quality.  These need to be easy to use and easy to understand.

Here are a few of the key points:

  • Most employers that offer a consumer-directed health plan say communicating with workers about these plans is their greatest challenge.
  • Nearly all of the respondents — 90 percent — cited employee communication as their greatest challenge in introducing the consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) and during the plan’s first year.
  • Employers, on average, began communicating information about the new plan to workers four months prior to open enrollment.
  • The study found that employers are generally pleased with Web-based, out-of-pocket cost calculators for employees.
  • Just 2 percent rated cost information about health care providers as excellent, and 5 percent rated it as good.
  • Only 10 percent rated information on the quality of care as good; none rated it as excellent.

“Employers have high expectations for CDHPs,” said Roland McDevitt, director of health research at Watson Wyatt and co-author of the study. “While their early experiences are favorable, the success of the plans will ultimately hinge on whether employers can provide employees with decision support tools that will empower them as engaged consumers.”

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