CHICAGO – A recent Aon Consulting and International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists survey finds that 74% of consumer driven health plans offered by U.S. companies have been launched in just the past 14 months. According to Aon Consulting Health/Welfare Senior Vice President Bill Sharon, this may be “the tipping point” for consumer driven health plans being embraced by U.S. companies. “To date, 2005 CDHP plan starts have exceeded 2004′s record benchmark, and our survey reveals the trend will only continue,” said Sharon. Of employers not currently offering a CDHP, 50% plan to offer them in the future, with 13% of the respondents indicating this will happen this year or next. Some 37% of benefits managers said they are undecided on an effective date to launch the offerings. The remaining 50% of companies not offering CDHPs today believe the concept is too new and will wait to see other employers’ experience with CDHPs before deciding to offer one themselves. “That is a very telling response. The majority of those who said they are not considering CDHPs have left the door open. This wait-and-see attitude is not surprising, but also indicates that as the consumer driven trend continues this growth pattern, we will see many of these benefits managers changing their opinion sooner than they think,” Sharon said. Of the employers planning to offer a CDHP in the near future, 49% anticipate offering a health savings account either as an option (38%) or as a total replacement for their existing health plans (11%). About 48% percent believe a CDHP makes employees better, more efficient consumers of health care and 25% believe a CDHP leads employees to forego needed health care to save money. As for the future of the CDHP concept, 29% believe CDHPs will be unsuccessful in controlling employers’ health care costs in five years. The remaining respondents believe CDHPs either will be successful (37%) or don’t know (34%). “The consumer driven era in healthcare has arrived, and we expect to see this trend really take off in 2006. By the end of the current decade CDHPs will be an offered option by the vast majority of U.S. companies. And if companies approach these plans carefully and strategically, we believe they will be satisfied with the results.”

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