Report: Account-based health plans on the rise, but obstacles remain

Consumer outreach and understand key to implementation

Eighty-seven percent of healthcare industry professionals believe account-based health plans (ABHPs) are important to their business, according to a new study from health plan software-as-a-service vendor Acclaris.

The report questioned over 650 industry professionals to determine if and how they plan to implement account-based health plans. Here are four key findings:

  • Participants included individuals from health plans, health plan consultants and benefits administrators. Among health plans, 95 percent believe account-based plans are important to their business.
  • More than 60 percent noted that consumer demand for such plans is increasing.
  • Currently, 53 percent of respondents offer ABHPs while 47 percent do not. Among health plans, 86 percent offer ABHPs; 14 percent do not.
  • Eight in 10 participants offer health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts; 53 percent offer health reimbursement accounts.

The report also noted obstacles facing ABHPs. For starters, educating consumers is difficult for companies offering ABHPs. Other impediments include data integration, adapting the right technology and compliance.

"Employers and health plans will increasingly be charged with helping consumers make smart decisions and manage all their healthcare-related needs in one place as the complex web of insurance policies, bank accounts and technology platforms converge," Dean Mason, CEO of Acclaris, said in a statement. "To do so, health plans and benefits administrators will need to focus on delivering a simple, yet fully integrated, consumer brand experience. Those who don't will inevitably miss out on what is quickly becoming the single most important brand interface for the healthcare consumer."

Given the rise of a more consumer-centric insurance industry, customer service and outreach is extremely important, noted the report. Because more than 60 percent of the target population for the health insurance exchanges does not understand fundamental health insurance concepts, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported, insurers in particular need to increase consumer awareness of ABHPs.

For more:
- here's the Acclaris announcement and report (.pdf)

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