Higher deductible CDHPs notably reduce healthcare spending

A new report from Health Care Services Corp. shows that people enrolled in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) increase their use of preventive services and generic medications, while also decreasing their use of the emergency room.

According to data from Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, members who migrated to higher deductible CDHPs reduced their healthcare spending significantly. According to HCSC, the study data is unique among market studies of CDHPs as it studied members who moved into these plans from traditional health plans, allowing them to track behavior changes the members made as a result of the shift.

"Our findings are significant because they indicate both real and potential healthcare spend reductions. Rather than comparing the utilization of different groups of consumers, we have focused on the utilization changes of members who migrated from traditional plans to CDHPs,” said Guy McGinnis, vice president, client analytics with HCSC, in a press release. “The fact that we are comparing the same members in both plans allows us to minimize inherent risk differentials.”

Key findings of the study showed that once moving to CDHPs members: 

  • were four percent more likely to take advantage of preventive services;
  •  reduced healthcare utilization by an aggregate of more than 12 percent;
  •  were 10 percent more likely to fill their prescriptions with generics;
  •  spent 24 percent less on inpatient hospital services and eight percent less on outpatient services;
  •  had a 12 percent decrease in emergency room visits;
  • and reduced combined medical and pharmacy spend by an aggregate of 11 percent.

This is the second year HCSC has conducted the study, which used five years of healthcare data from more than 265,000 members and pharmacy data from more than 121,000 of the same members. The analysis is meant to show how effective the company is executing on the design of its own CDHP plans, which the company noted will be further enhanced for 2013 with added incentives designed to increase the savings associated with these plans.


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