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California Insurers are Behind the Curve with Consumer-Driven Health Plans
Date:10/29/2008

Insurers Still Seeking Right Price for Consumer-Driven Products, According

to New Report from HealthLeaders-InterStudy

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that despite its trend-setter reputation, California is behind the curve in the consumer-driven health plan market, resulting in some sticker shock as insurers search for the right price for their products. According to the latest California Health Plan Analysis, fewer than 4 percent of California employees are covered by tax-advantaged, high-deductible products, also known as consumer-driven health plan products, which are increasing in popularity nationwide. According to one 2008 study, consumer-driven products represent about 5.2 percent of employer-sponsored health plans in California, compared to nearly 13 percent nationally.

"The strength of HMOs in California is one reason that uptake of consumer-driven plans has been slow," said Chris Lewis, analyst with HealthLeaders-InterStudy. "Residents are familiar with HMOs and the predictable fees and copays associated with them. However, as prices of HMOs are increasing and catching up to PPO premiums, employers are looking for more choices and are becoming more educated about the health plan options out there."

Insurers are meeting market demand by providing high-deductible plans to employers, but pricing of these consumer-driven plans has been a challenge. For example, Anthem Blue Cross hiked fees for one of its Lumenos plans by more than 32 percent in May 2008. According to Anthem Blue Cross officials, the price increase was necessary to respond to an expensive, and unanticipated, number of claims.

"Carriers had thought that with a high-deductible plan, consumer medical spending would be more moderate than it turned out to be," noted Lewis. "As a result, some employers responded to high renewal rates by changing carrie
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SOURCE HealthLeaders-InterStudy
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