Consumer-Directed Health Plans: Health Status, Spending, and Utilization of Enrollees in Plans Based on Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-10-616, July 16, 2010

From the highlights:
On average, enrollees in the HRA groups of both employers GAO reviewed spent less and generally used fewer health care services before they switched into the HRA in 2003 than those who remained in the PPO, suggesting that the HRA groups were healthier. Average annual spending per enrollee for the public employer’s HRA group was $1,505 lower than the PPO group for the 2-year period prior to switching. (Spending for the public employer was based on analysis of both medical and pharmacy claims.) Likewise, the private employer’s HRA group spent $566 less per enrollee for the 2-year period prior to switching than the PPO group (we were not able to examine pharmacy claims for the private employer). Similarly, of the 21 studies GAO reviewed that assessed the health status of HRA and other CDHP enrollees, 18 found they were healthier than traditional plan enrollees based on utilization of health care services, self-reported health status, or the prevalence of certain diseases or disease indicators. Other demographic differences may also explain spending and utilization differences including that policyholders in the HRA group were younger than those in the PPO group.

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