UnitedHealthcare Studies CDHC

The company has compared results over a five-year period for 266,000 consumer directed health (CDH) plan enrollees using Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) with 147,000 preferred provider organizations (PPO) enrollees. After adjusting for demographics, health status, etc., here are the results:

  • Pharmacy costs were 18% to 23% lower in the CDH plans and medical costs were 4% to 8% lower.
  • Overall costs were 7% to 9% lower in the CDH plans, with the savings growing through time (employers saved 10% and 12% in 2006 and 2007, respectively).
  • About 82% to 87% of employer savings were the direct result of utilization decreases rather than cost-drifting to employees.

Here are some additional findings:

  • Hospital admissions were similar in the two plans during 2006, but almost 20% lower among CDH plan members in 2007.
  • Levels of prescription drug use were essentially the same between the plans, yet pharmacy costs in the CDH plan were significantly lower than in the PPO plan.
  • Frequency of physician office visits was very similar across the plans in 2006, but somewhat lower (6% lower) in the CDH plan in 2007.
  • Frequency of routine/preventive visits were fundamentally equivalent across the plans.

Here are some results for the chronically ill:

  • Costs were 7% – 8% lower for CDH plan members with chronic conditions, when compared to their peers in a PPO plan.
  • A separate study, conducted by UnitedHealthcare, confirms that chronically ill individuals enrolling in a CDH plan are as likely to be compliant with their medications as people enrolling in other plan types.

Comments (4)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    These results are very important. I hope they get widespread coverage.

  2. Tom H. says:

    The numbers on the chronically ill are especially interesting.

  3. Larry C. says:

    I read the other day that UnitedHealthcare is using HRAs and HSAs to allow chronic patients to manage some of their own health care in special ways.

    True? If so, I wish you would post something on it.

  4. John Goodman says:

    Here is a link to a summary of the study.