The Effects of Consumer-Directed Health Plans on Health Care Spending

19 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2010

See all articles by Anthony T. Lo Sasso

Anthony T. Lo Sasso

University of Illinois at Chicago - School of Public Health

Lorens A. Helmchen

The George Washington University

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Abstract

We use unique data from an insurer that exclusively offers high-deductible, “consumer-directed” health plans to identify the effect of plan features, notably employer contributions to the spending account, on health care spending. Our results show that the marginal dollar contributed by the employer to the spending account is entirely spent on outpatient and pharmacy services. In contrast, out-of-pocket spending was not responsive to the amount the employer contributes to the spending account. Our results represent the first plausibly causal estimates of the components of consumer-driven health plans on health spending. The magnitudes of the effects suggest important health care spending consequences to higher employer contributions to spending accounts. Our findings are most directly relevant to health reimbursement arrangement plan designs, though our results are still of value to health savings account plan designs.

Suggested Citation

Lo Sasso, Anthony T. and Helmchen, Lorens A. and Kaestner, Robert, The Effects of Consumer-Directed Health Plans on Health Care Spending. Journal of Risk and Insurance, Vol. 77, Issue 1, pp. 85-103, March 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1548172 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6975.2009.01346.x

Anthony T. Lo Sasso (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - School of Public Health ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60612
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Lorens A. Helmchen

The George Washington University ( email )

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Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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