Consumer-directed health plans can help contain health care spending for years after they're put into place, according to the first major study of its type. 

"Do 'Consumer-Directed' Health Plans Bend the Cost Curve over Time?" released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, analyzes the three-year effects of CDHPs.

"We estimated spending trends for three years across … the country in an analysis estimating CDHP impacts, without the threat of individual level selection bias," the authors of the study wrote. "We find that health-care cost growth among firms offeringa CDHP is significantly lower in each of the first three years after offer. This result suggests that, at least at large employers, the impact of CDHPs persists and is not just a one-time reduction in spending." 

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