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Customers of High-Deductible Health Plans Control Costs Efficiently

Customers of High-Deductible Health Plans Control Costs Efficiently

According to a study conducted by the Independence Blue Cross or IBC, the consumers of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) can control the health care costs by choosing lower cost health care choices like brand versus generic drugs, more efficiently than the consumers of other health plans. HDHP customers can even take better health care decisions for being well. HDHP plans feature higher deductibles with lower rate of premiums. Such plans mainly emphasizes on prevention and education; instead of cure.

Independence Blue Cross (IBC) recently conducted two comprehensive researches to know more about the consumers' as well as employer groups' point of view towards actively participating in making their health care decisions and this is what we call Consumerism - and if their activities support their viewpoints. In a broader sense, healthcare consumerism denotes empowering customers by changing how they will make options about quality, cost and worth of healthcare services and products.

According to Dr. Esther Nash, the senior medical director and co-chair for the Office of Consumerism at Independence Blue Cross, the company is working with the employer groups in order to deal with the challenge of giving inexpensive, valued healthcare services; since the consumerism is coming out and changing the health care industry, speedily. He added report of the survey conducted by IBC revealed that the people have started understanding the usefulness of selecting healthier and disciplined lifestyles, inquiring their doctors more than ever about potential treatment choices and practically making much informed and better decisions for their health and wellness.

Scott Post, vice president of marketing and co-chair for Office of Consumerism, IBC, said that IBC is dedicated to offer more tools, products, services and incentives to make customers more powerful about taking right health care choices. He also said that the company is striving to best possible customer health, which results in health care cost savings. And, this is the most important part of health care industry's revolution.

He added, from brokers who vend medical plans to the companies who offer health coverage to the staffs, to the doctors who take care of patients and top of all, the customers who actually take the decision that denotes how healthy and efficient they are; everyone is playing active role in this revolution.

IBC's Consumerism Office designs IBC's consumerism plan, introduces projects to help consumers of healthcare and works in partnership with the trade partners and employer groups for expanding the effort for consumerism.

IBC's survey found:

Demand for High-deductible plans is growing: In the Philadelphia healthcare industry, acceptance of high deductible health plans is rapidly increasing. As of 2008, there was a 109% increment in enrollment for HDHP as seen by IBC. Since, the employers are dealing with more challenging situations, more and more employers are likely to offer HDHPs as an inexpensive choice, which would also persuade their staffs to become well-versed healthcare consumers.

HDHP members are more occupied: Customers of HDHPs seem to be much engaged in taking right and better healthcare decisions than the customers of conventional controlled care plans like PPOs and HMOs. And, this is 100% true, especially when it comes to tackle a severe situation. Almost 58% of HDHP consumers with severe condition speak that they are more actively engaged in treatment related decisions; while only 37% customers of other controlled care plans say so.

Health plans are considered as the main resource of information: Customers are still not confident about their capacity to take proper health care decisions. Therefore, they carry on seeking out information and guidance from conventional resources like family, friends, relatives and their doctors. Nevertheless, the customers have started considering their healthcare plans as a potential source of information, especially while exploring treatment choices or the costs of healthcare.

Price also sometimes matters: On the whole, customers are still not interested to be bothered to obtain better and reasonable healthcare price. Nevertheless, the customers of HDHP are more interested in doing needful for a better cost of health care. For instance, they are likely to use a primary care doctor rather than a specialist or relocate for getting a diagnostic examination. When customers ask questions, they mainly focus on the price of prescribed medicines. The preliminary health care choice where customers spoke they could make an option to saving money is going for a generic rather than branded prescribed drug.

Employers are interested to reward employees; employees are willing to take part: Half of the surveyed companies spoke that they are more likely to provide a wellness reward program to their employees and think it would bring about more healthy employees. Almost 85% of surveyed companies think that the greatest way to tackle the costs of health care for individuals is to take much better care of their health. More or less two third of the total consumers are keen to take part in incentive programs; if provided. Customers also spoke if their companies offered such programs; it may show that the employers cared for their staffs.

Plans endorse well-being: Most of the customers think their health plans would assist them improving or maintaining their health. This was especially true for the members of IBC. Majority (almost 81%) of the IBC members think such a way; while only 67% of the consumers of other carriers' members think so. And when asked about the reason, the customers indicated to the coverage provided by IBC for preventive care and enticements for healthy lifestyle. Members of IBC were more interested than the members of other plans mentioning the accessibility of wellness programs offered by IBC; for instance, inducements to exercise, reduce weight or quit tobacco smoking.

Post said that they are optimistic by the results of the survey and looking forward to same company and customer studies planned to be performed by the end of this year. He is confident that this way they can estimate the impact of their efforts for educating healthcare customers and offer relevant services. In due course, they think that the consumerism movement results in better consciousness of wellness; enhanced long-term health for customers of their region, plus a strong probability for reducing healthcare costs to assist companies to tackle healthcare budget.

IBC offers several programs to members to be involved in healthcare decisions. Such as a pilot program of Healthy LifestylesSM Rewards, an incentive program to assist members to work toward healthier way of life. It was launched with only four companies; will be provided to companies with over 100 workers. The program allows companies to reward their workers' healthy conduct and lifestyle with a gift card.

Consumerism surveys bespoke by IBC were performed online by DSS Research; a nation-wide research organization. Consumerism survey interviewed thousands of southeastern Pennsylvania customers, who were either insured by IBC or any other carrier. Employer group survey was conducted among 225 Philadelphia-based companies. Every company had minimum 100 workers that take part in their health plans.

An overview on Independence Blue Cross (IBC)

IBC is a self-governing licensee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

IBC is a major health insurance company in southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and the affiliates offer coverage to almost 3.4 million individuals, nationally. For over 70 years, the merchant has been offering best quality personalized medical coverage to meet the altering requirements of the members, companies and medial professionals. IBC's PPO and HMO plans have been receiving excellent ratings from National Committee for Quality Assurance.

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