2002 Policy Forum Focuses on New Trends in Employer Health Benefits
In 2002, the Employee Benefit Research Institute convened a policy forum to explore the implications of consumer-driven health plans for workers and their families, employers and public policy. The Consumer Health Education Council co-sponsored the meeting.
The institute, based in Washington, is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization engaged in public policy research and education on economic security and employee benefits.
- The "Policy Forum on Consumer-Driven Health Benefits" took place on May 2, 2002, in Washington. The forum brought together 86 participants, including the institute sponsors, congressional and executive branch staff, employee benefit experts and representatives from academia, interest groups and labor.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $44,810.
More than 163 million Americans under age 65 are covered by employer-based health insurance. Employers are examining changes to these benefits in order to control future health benefit cost increases, respond to employee demands for more choice, and in some cases, to distance themselves further from health care decisions.
The new benefit designs have been referred to as "consumer-driven health benefits." These plans, made possible by increased information access and delivery through the Internet, feature expanded worker choice in actual medical purchasing.
The institute began research on the new benefit designs in 2000, held the first policy forum on the topic in 2001, and published a series of papers from the forum in the monthly newsletter EBRI Notes and the monthly publication EBRI Issue Brief.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute's May 2002 policy forum brought together 86 participants, including the institute sponsors, congressional and executive branch staff, employee benefit experts and representatives from academia, interest groups and labor.
Participants represented 63 organizations, including the National Education Association, American Medical Association, Business Week magazine, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The conference included 18 presentations and four panels exploring the implications of consumer-driven health plans for workers and their families, employers and public policy.
In an Executive Summary of the published proceedings — entitled Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution? — project staff highlighted the key features of the new benefits designs.
Most plans provide their employees with:
- Full or partial responsibility for the first several thousand dollars in health expenses.
- An employer-funded account that can be used for a variety of medical expenses, including premiums and/or out-of-pocket expenses (which sometimes can be rolled over from one year to the next if unused).
- Catastrophic coverage covering costs above a certain level, usually higher than those now commonly in use.
Project staff disseminated nearly 5,000 copies of the proceedings. Staff also published the Executive Summary in EBRI Notes and an article on provider networks in EBRI Issue Brief. (See the Bibliography for details.)
The proceedings may be purchased online for $29.95.
The Consumer Health Education Council co-sponsored the meeting, and the Commonwealth Fund provided $14,950 to help disseminate the conference proceedings.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Policy Forum on Consumer-Driven Health Benefits
Education & Research Fund of Employee Benefit Research Institute (Washington, DC)
Dates: April 2002 to March 2003
Paul Fronstin, Ph.D.
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
Fronstin P (ed.). Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution? Washington, D.C.: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2002. Available for purchase online.
Jaffe J. "Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution?" Executive Summary, EBRI Notes 23(8): 2002. Available for purchase online.
Fronstin P. "Tiered Networks for Hospital and Physician Health Care Services," EBRI Issue Brief, no. 260, August 2003. Available for purchase online.
"EBRI-ERF Policy Forum on Consumer Driven Health Benefits, May 2, 2002, Washington, D.C. Attended by 86 participants representing 63 organizations, such as the National Education Association, American Medical Association, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. 4 panels, 18 presentations.
Report prepared by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: David C. Colby