There's little doubt that consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are gaining in popularity, on the premise that such high-deductible plans can offer employers significant cost savings over traditional health care models. Trouble is, those savings may take years to materialize. "CDHPs are perhaps at a tipping point," says Richard Ostuw, an Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) fellow. "The level of enrollment has grown significantly relative to previous years, but is still modest in absolute terms." That suggests skepticism by workers and employers, he says.
Just 12.5 million individuals have a CDHP, according to the American Association of Preferred Provider organizations. "Enrollment, however, grew an impressive 25% in 2007 over 2006," AAPPO says. While growth should continue at that rate, savings are expected to be restrained by two factors: slow acceptance of the health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) that make up CDHPs and the large initial contributions by corporations to attract new participants.