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Employers that began communicating about a new consumer-directed health plan at least six months prior to implementation averaged a CDHP penetration rate of 42%, while those getting a later start averaged only 25%, according to a new survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the RAND Corp.
The survey, "The CDHP Implementation Experience with Large Employers," released Tuesday, also found that employers that eliminated popular plan options or offered financial incentives had greater penetration rates when CDHPs were offered as an alternative to traditional health plans.
For example, employers that eliminated a popular plan option averaged a CDHP penetration rate of 52%, while those that maintained all prior plan offerings averaged only 20%. In addition, when the premium contribution rate was made the lowest for the CDHP option, employees chose the CDHP 36% of the time compared with 28% in companies in which it was not the lowest-premium choice.
Despite the need for better consumer engagement to make CDHPs more effective in controlling health care costs, employers participating in the Wyatt/RAND survey were generally disappointed in the current information tools that are available for rating physician cost and quality. Physician quality comparison tools were rated good or excellent by only 11% of the employers participating in the survey, compared with 37% for hospital comparisons.
The study, which examined the experience of 42 large employers offering one or more CDHPs with at least a $500 deductible, is part of a larger, multiyear study of CDHPs jointly funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. RAND is the lead organization with Watson Wyatt serving as a research partner.
Copies of the research brief, "The CDHP Implementation Experience with Large Employers" are available to registered members of My Watson Wyatt at www.watsonwyatt.com/cdhp.