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Blue Cross' Consumer-directed Health Plan - Options Blue - Members Not Sacrificing Health for the Sake of Saving Money

New Benefits Quarterly article highlights research on Blue Cross

consumer-directed member's health care utilization

EAGAN, Minn., March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- In a peer-reviewed study published in the March issue of Benefits Quarterly, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) reports that their CDHP (consumer-directed health plan) members had 11 percent fewer visits to the emergency room and had an 11 percent decrease in prescription drug use, as compared to members in traditional plans. The study, which adjusted for differences in health, also found that the CDHP members used 12 percent more preventive services than traditional plan members. More than 830,000 enrollees were studied over a period of three years.

"Blue Cross was one of the first plans in the country to offer a consumer- directed health plan," explains Richard Neuner, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of marketing and sales. "We now have the largest population of members in these plans in any single state. We know consumers and employers are interested, but cautious about these new plan designs. Many people have known that CDHPs save premium dollars and this study demonstrates health is also maintained. The research shows that as a consumer-directed health plan, Options Blue is working well." Neuner added, "We have added new features such as consumer and employer communication toolkits designed to help consumers use these plans. We think that will make adoption of these plan designs happen faster, and will result in more informed, savvy consumers."

"Our findings revealed that, when it comes to services that are more within their control, our CDHP members use less than members in traditional plans, yet they are still getting the preventive care they need," stated Nancy Garrett, Ph.D., director of informatics, Blue Cross.

"Blue Cross knows that consumers and employers are very interested in consumer-directed health plans, but also have some concerns that members will not pursue recommended care if they are overly concerned about their out-of- pocket expenses," explained Dr. David W. Plocher, chief medial officer and senior vice president, business intelligence, informatics and pharmacy management at Blue Cross. "Our study suggests the opposite. Our research shows that our members are not shortchanging their preventive care. People are taking care of themselves and not waiting until there's a problem."

Blue Cross' Options Blue membership has grown more than 2,000 percent, from 13,000 to more than 280,000 members, during the past five years, and continues to grow. "As the market leader, Blue Cross wanted to learn more about how CDHPs are being used by our members. We believe this research is significant not only because of its size, but also because the study suggests a strong relationship between plan design and consumers' use of health care services. Consumer-directed plan designs can provide consumers with appropriate incentives to be thoughtful consumers of health care without impeding their access to the right levels of care," concluded Plocher.

Click here for a link to the study on

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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