Penny pincher It’s imperative then that decision makers for employer-sponsored health care enter a HDHP plan with an understanding of these potentially harmful effects. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Earlier this year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Los Angeles times released findings on member satisfaction with employer-sponsored plans. The results weren’t surprising—most people (68 percent) said their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage was excellent or good. However, that satisfaction decreases to 46 percent for those on high deductible health plans (HDHPs). And if you dig further into the data, it reinforces some troubling messages that research has been suggesting for some time.

While HDHPs have been hailed as a way to make people savvier consumers of health care, that vision of legions of patients becoming engaged shoppers pushing down prices has turned out to be a mirage. People still don’t fully understand the concept of a deductible as it currently stands in healthcare—typically, they assume that it applies for all care and overlook the exclusions around preventive care. And you can’t fault them—deductibles in other areas, such as those for car insurance, don’t work that way. These deductibles also reflect a high percentage of most people’s available cash savings, presenting a serious financial deterrent to care access. The people who’ve proven to benefit the most from high deductible plans are those who use a health savings account (HSA)—which isn’t really the point of creating these plans in the first place.

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