CHICAGO (12/2/09)--High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) coupled with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can be a good fit for employers and employees, says a new study from Chicago-based Alliant CU. However, the credit union cautions that employers implementing these do so carefully. Alliant conducted a marketing analysis and surveyed 1,020 people employed in companies of various industries and sizes to gauge employees' knowledge and perceptions of HDHPs and HSAs. It found that companies can save 20% to 40% of their health insurance premiums and defray future premium increases by implementing an HDHP. However HDHPs have an image problem and an awareness challenge, said Alliant. Unless employees work for a company that offers the benefit, odds are they don't know what it is. The survey found 32% of employees whose companies don't offer HDHP had heard of HDHPs. When respondents were introduced to the HDHP and HSA concept during the survey, 53% said they wouldn't consider an HDHP if they had a choice. However, 32% said they would consider switching if an HDHP was offered as a company option. Employees in companies with HDHPs said they chose the option because:
* 69% preferred low premiums; * 45% liked the tax-favored HSA option; * 26% said the plan was a good catastrophic care plan/safety plan; * 36% appreciated the employer match; and * 31% enjoyed the freedom of choice for their doctors and hospitals.
Respondents declining the plan did so for these reasons:
* 44% considered the deductible too high; * 23% didn't think the price was aligned with its value; and * 20% preferred traditional coverage.
The findings are incorporated in Alliant's new white paper, "Is an HDHP/HSA the right prescription for your company?" It notes that companies have a better chance of successfully implementing HDHP if they:
* Introduce it as an option in addition to "traditional plans" such as health maintenance organizations and preferred physicians organizations; * Are transparent about employee benefit insurance costs; * Select a good HDHP, particularly a plan that covers annual checkups and preventive care before a deductible is considered; * Fund employees' HSAs (at an amount of 50% to 70% of the employees' deductible); * Do a good job of pointing out the comparative benefits among their company insurance plans, enabling employees to self-select themselves an HDHP, based on their needs and its perceived value; * Provide the HDHP within the context of other wellness programs; and * Choose the HDHP custodian wisely.
For a free copy of the white paper from Alliant Benefits Solutions, use the link.