Consumer Driven Health Plan Growth Slows; Costs Surpass HMOs

Nation’s largest health plan survey cites key trends in employer health plans

Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHPs) in the U.S. experienced continued growth this year – albeit at a slower rate than in 2009 and 2010 – according to preliminary results released by United Benefit Advisors (UBA) from its 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey, the nation’s largest health plan benchmarking survey, with 16,421 plans from 10,744, employers.


CDHPs grew at a rate of 13.9 percent this past year (about two-thirds of the 2010 rate) to 22.9 percent of plans offered and cover more employees (17.3 percent) than Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans (11.9 percent), according to Jeff Coenen, President, Johnson Insurance Consultants. The Northeast region of the country had the largest concentration of CDHPs (31.3 percent), followed by the Southeast region (27.4 percent). The average cost increase for all CDHPs at 8.0 percent was slightly lower than that of the average of all plan types, which increased 8.2 percent this year.


Employers continue offset the higher out-of-pocket costs of CDHPs by offering employees a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA) and contributing funds. The 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey found the average employer contribution to an HRA was $1,656 (up from $1,481 in 2010) for a single employee and $3,198 for a family (up from $2,857 in 2010).


“For the first time in more than seven years of reporting, CDHPs nationally did not create a savings over the clients’ in-force plan prior to renewal. This year experienced an increase (2.1 %), albeit less than the average 8.2 percent increase of all plans,” said Coenen. “As these plans become more prevalent, the percentage of savings has continually declined.”


“We anticipate that in spite of passage of health care reform efforts, health care costs will continue to increase. There still needs to be concerted efforts to change or alter the underlying health care issues that control costs,” said Coenen.


Other key statistics from this year’s Survey results:

  • The average renewal increase for all plan types was 8.2 percent.
  • PPO plans have nearly two-thirds of all enrolled employees (64.4 percent).
  • The average employee contribution for plans with contributions for all plan types is $117 for single and $467 for family.
  • Four-fifths of all wellness plans (80.6 percent) offered a health risk assessment.
  • As a direct result of health care reform criteria, 81.3 percent of all plans now offer an unlimited lifetime maximum benefit compared to just 16.1 percent in 2010
  • Of all plans in the Northeast, 80.7 percent still have 100 percent coinsurance, a decline of only 1 percent from 2010.
  • Less than half (49.9%) percent of all covered employees also elected to cover their dependents, a decline of 6 percent.


As health care plan offerings become more complex, benchmarking data such as the annual UBA Health Plan Survey have become increasingly critical, said Stafford.


“The intent of the UBA 2011 Health Plan Survey is to provide employers of all sizes with the data they need to manage their health care benefit programs effectively,” said Stafford. “Especially for employers with fewer than 1,000 employees (which represents more than 99 percent of the employers in the U.S.) and for employers who have operations in multiple locations, this survey is the best source of reliable regional – and in many cases, state – health plan benchmarks by employer size and industry categories.”


The 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey will be available to the public on Nov. 1. Only UBA Member Firms have access to the more than 250,000 pages of granular state, region and industry data. Stafford also said the analysis of the 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey data will continue over the next several months and, as in past years, additional findings will be forthcoming.  UBA has Member Firms in virtually every major U.S. market. To locate one and learn more about the 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey, visit


With responses from 16,421 health plans sponsored by 10,744 employers nationwide, the 2011 UBA Health Plan Survey is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive survey of plan design and plan costs. As the largest survey of its kind, the UBA Health Plan Survey defines benchmarks by a greater number of specific industries, regions and employer size categories than is available from any other resource. The 2011 UBA Benefit Opinions Survey (which delineates employers' positions and opinions on Health Care Strategy, Health Benefits Philosophy and Opinion, Health Plan Management, Personal Health Management,  Employee Communication, and Scope of Benefits Offered).


jeff coenen
david pollard
greg toscano
kyle johnson
mark peterson