Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Those who are enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans tend to be more attentive to their health care, a study has found, while adding that those with those characteristics may be more likely to enroll in such plans in the first place.

Such plans, available through employer-sponsored health insurance programs including the FEHB, couple the high deductible with a tax-favored savings account that can be used to pay out of pocket costs but that remain to a person’s credit if unspent during the plan year.

A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that enrollees in such plans “are more engaged in their health care than traditional plan enrollees. They are more likely to seek cost and quality information and to exhibit cost-conscious behavior. For instance, HDHP enrollees are more likely to research doctors and hospitals, inquire about generic drug options, seek less costly treatment solutions, negotiate lower prices for services, and ask questions about coverage for specific medications.

“They are also more likely to create a budget for medical expenses, use online cost-tracking tools offered by healthcare providers, and take preventative measures to preserve health, including enrolling in wellness programs,” it said.

However, it added that “that there may be outside factors driving the health and cost-conscious behavior of those enrolled in high-deductible plans”; compared with the general population, those in such plans are more educated, more highly paid and in better health.

“It is important to remember that these advantages may drive people to select the HDHP option,” it said.

Read more about FEHB and FEHB and Medicare coverage at ask.FEDweek.com