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Consumer-Directed Health Plans Growing In Popularity, GAO Report Says, USA

01 Jun 2006 - Reprinted with permission from http://www.kaisernetwork.org

The number of U.S. residents who enrolled in consumer-directed health plans increased from roughly three million in January 2005 to as many as six million by January 2006, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. According to the AP/Chronicle, the policies are usually combined with health savings accounts, and they must have a minimum deductible of $1,050 for a single person and $2,100 for a family. The GAO report finds that the number of employers offering high-deductible insurance plans to workers increased from 1% in 2004 to about 4% in 2005. Nearly 30% of people enrolling in such plans were previously uninsured, according to Mohit Ghose, spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans. "That leads us to one conclusion, which is that this product will appeal to certain types of consumers," Ghose said, adding, "And what's important in the long run is to have as much choice as possible so that consumers and their employers can make the coverage decision that suits them best." Critics of high-deductible plans say that they are best suited to younger, healthier workers, and they also express concern that employers are using the plans to shift costs to employees, according to the AP/Chronicle (Freking, AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/30).

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