Defined narrowly, consumer driven health care (CDHC) refers to third tier health insurance plans that allow members to use personal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), or similar medical payment products to pay routine health care expenses directly, while a high-deductible health insurance policy protects them from catastrophic medical expenses. High-deductible policies cost less, but the user pays routine medical claims using a pre-funded spending account, often with a special debit card provided by a bank or insurance plan. If the balance on this account runs out, the user then pays claims just like under a regular deductible. Users keep any unused balance or "rollover" at the end of the year to increase future balances, or to invest for future expenses.
This system of health care is referred to as "consumer driven health care" because routine claims are paid using a consumer-controlled account versus a fixed health insurance benefit. That gives patients greater control over their own health budgets. According to economist John C. Goodman, "In the consumer-driven model, consumers occupy the primary decision-making role regarding the health care they receive." Goodman points to a McKinsey study which found that CDHC patients were twice as likely as patients in traditional plans to ask about cost and three times as likely to choose a less expensive treatment option, and chronic patients were 20 percent more... Read More