Consumer-driven health plan participants have a reputation for being younger, but that's apparently not the case.
On average, younger participants tend to use less health care, so the assumption made sense. However, new research by the Employee Benefits Research Institute indicates otherwise.
In fact, the research finds that since 2005, 22 percent of CDHP participants were between the ages of 21 and 34 as opposed to 30 percent of those enrolled in traditional plans. Only in 2010 were HDHP participants more likely to range between the ages 35 and 44 (27 percent) than traditional plans (23 percent.
“It is very difficult to generalize the differences in characteristics among CDHP enrollees, high-deductible enrollees, and individuals with traditional coverage, but a few differences stand out,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report.
“The study found that people who enroll in CDHPs do typically seem to be in better health with higher education and higher incomes than those with traditional coverage.”
Going back to 2005, the research reveals that CDHP participants frequently have been in better health and are about twice as likely to hold college or post-graduate educations than those in traditional plans. CDHP participants are also more likely to earn at least $150,000 a year aside from 2009 and 2010. There seems to be little difference in plan type among the various races.
From 2005 to 2009, CDHP participants were more likely to have coverage through small employers as opposed to those with traditional coverage, the research finds. However, there is little difference in employer size and type of plan in more recent years.
According to the research, CDHP growth has held steady but at a slow pace.
Thirty-six percent of employers with at least 500 workers offered either a health reimbursement account or health savings account, an increase from 32 percent. Based on these figures, approximately 25 million people with private insurance make up 14.6 percent of the market and were enrolled in either a CDHP or HSA-eligible plan last year.