CDHPs, HSAs will play a greater role in mHealth

Posted on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 – 05:59 am at mobilehealthwatch.com | mHealthNews.com

My assumption is that over time mHealth will grow to more heavily interconnect with consumer driven health plans and healthcare savings (and related) accounts. Two sessions at the recent HIMSS 8th National Medical Banking Institute provided current information which I think Mobility Blog readers will find valuable.

D. Dean Mason, HSA Bank, led the State of the HSA Industry HIMSS Boot Camp session. Mason substantiated several claims: HSAs drive virtuous individual health behaviors, drive cost saving behaviors, do not cause avoidance of medically necessary care, generate cost savings for employers (plan sponsors), and reduce year over year premium increases.

He noted that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Estimate of Workers in HSA-Qualified High Deductible Health Plans, the number of eligible workers grew from just over 1 million in 2006 to just under 5 million in 2009. According to HSA Bank’s Aggregate Account Estimate for the Top 20 HSA Custodians, in 2006 there were less than 500,000 accounts held by this group, while in January, 2010, the number was closer to 4,000,000, while deposits grew from $1,000,000,000 to over $6,000,000,000 during the same period.

After describing the market share of these top 20, he provided thoughts about the future: a shake out of weaker custodians will occur, he desires to see greater feature innovation, he would like a greater correspondence between HSA premium underwriting at many carriers and the account holder’s utilization experience, and he wants the HSA industry to play a larger role in the healthcare reform debate noting that a person’s (health consumer/customer) health is one of their greatest financial assets.

Roy Ramthun, HSA Consulting Services, LLC, reviewed the impact of health reform legislation on HSAs. Ramthun predicted that the health care reform legislation making its way through the 111th Congress will, if enacted, likely have a modest impact on consumer-driven health plans and their associated health care accounts (i. e., FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs); this was not the case with previous legislative proposals.

Ramthun provided some projections and market trends research: he thought that growth in CDHPs could be accelerated, primarily due to mandates and subsidies; that HSA growth is likely, especially in the absence of reform; and he noted that 22.7% of the under-65 population with private health insurance in 2009 was enrolled in high deductible health plans (up from 19.4% in 2008 and 17.5% in 2007).

He added that according to the 2009 estimates of research and advisory firm, Celent, in 2010, 8.2% of all U.S. workers will be enrolled in high deductible health plans, a 33% increase over the previous year. He reported that Aon Consulting/ISCEBS, in 2009, found that 44% of companies now offer consumer driven health plans: 56% offer HSA plans only (48% in 2006); 35% offer HRA plans only (43% in 2006); 9% use both HSA and HRA plans; 37% of companies plan to offer CDHPs in the near future; and 17% of companies have implemented a total replacement where the only plan choices offered to employees are CDHPs.

Much more helpful data can be gleaned at the Institute Speaker Handouts page and at MBlog.