NASE News

Briefing Highlights Consumer Directed Health Care As Reform Option

The Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) recently hosted a briefing to discuss consumer driven health care. A consumer driven health plan is generally defined as a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) offered in combination with a savings fund such as a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA).

In his introductory comments, briefing moderator Merrill Matthews of CAHI expressed concern that Congress and the Obama Administration have not looked at consumer driven health care in their reform discussions and warned that current reform proposals could end the consumer driven market.

Greg Scandlen of Consumers for Health Care Choices at the Heartland Institute stated that consumer directed health plans were good for everyone and were the most effective way to lower premium costs.

Both Scandlen and Mac McCarthy of McCarthy Actuaries testified that consumer driven health plans tend to pay more for wellness programs and preventive care, and that participants in these plans are more likely to do research on providers and procedures, as well as participate in wellness programs.

Other panelists also spoke in support of consumer directed health plans, and especially in favor of HSAs. Some recommendations on improving HSAs included providing tax credits for those without employer-sponsored health coverage, allowing those without employer-sponsored health insurance to pay for health insurance with funds from their HSAs, and using the proposed health insurance “exchanges” to increase access to HSAs for the self-employed and others in the individual and small group market.