Study says consumerism cuts costs

Consumer-directed health plans really work, at least according to WellPoint Inc., which has made a big push to sell them recently.

The Indianapolis-based health insurer’s Institute of Health Care Knowledge compared people covered by traditional PPO, or
preferred provider organization, health plans against the smaller number covered by consumer-directed plans. One example of
such a plan is when high-deductible health insurance is combined with a tax-free health savings account.

Those with consumer-directed plans racked up slightly lower medical expenditures in 2007 than in 2006. But people covered
by other types of plans spent from 7 percent to 10 percent more on health care
services than in 2006.

Also, people covered by a consumer-directed health plan used preventive services 8.8 percent more than peers in other plans.

WellPoint based its study on nearly 8,000 of its employer customers that covered 300,000 workers or their family members with
health benefits. Those employers were located in Indiana, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio.

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