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October 5, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Acronym – Why should I Consider a CDHP?

More than likely, you have already received your group health insurance renewal or are anxiously awaiting (or dreading) that email containing your rates for next year.  Good news, however.   Mercer reports that 2012 average growth in U.S. health benefit cost is expected to slow to 7.1% for group health plans (as compared to 9.8% for 2011).  Still, that percentage increases inflation and wage growth, so you still may be looking at cost-reduction options.

One option you may want to consider is a Consumer-Directed Health Plan (CDHP).  This is the umbrella name for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) whose distinguishing component includes an employee-controlled spending account, either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).

You may be thinking to yourself, “Enough with the acronyms!  As if health care reform isn’t confusing enough!”  Well, keep reading, because although CDHPs have been around for awhile, Mercer predicts we may see a spike in 2012 in both the number of employers offering CDHPs and the number of employees enrolling in them.  The reason being, these plans are seen by employers as a way to provide more value to employees while at the same time managing costs.  Additionally, the HSA plan allows employees to save, on a pre-tax basis, account dollars not only for the current year but for future years.  So what are the differences between HSAs and HRAs?  For a brief summary, please refer to the table below:

This is just a brief glimpse into CDHP plans.  Depending on your specific situation, they may be worth looking at further.  The links below will give you some additional insights and considerations.

SHRM:  Consumer-Driven Decision:  Weighing HSAs vs. HRAsFor 2012, Higher Limits for HSA Contributions

Mercer:  Latest survey finds health benefit cost growth for 2012 likely to be the lowest in 15 years

Aetna:  Health Fund Study – Seventh Annual Aetna HealthFund Study

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