Enrollment in Consumer-Directed Health Plans Low in Bay Area
As consumer-directed health plans gain support from the federal government, enrollment remains lower in the San Francisco Bay Area than nationwide, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Such plans typically are linked to health savings accounts, which allow consumers to make contributions for health care.
According to the Business Times, consumers in the Bay Area continue to favor traditional health care benefits.
The Bush Administration and other supporters of consumer-directed plans say that the plans offer health care consumers more autonomy in comparing prices and making decisions, but opponents say that such plans shift too much financial burden on employees without providing adequate tools and information.
According to Chris Renz -- a principal with Mercer Health & Benefits in San Francisco -- 11% of employers nationwide are expected to offer related plans by 2007, compared with 9% of employers in Northern California.
While HSA contributions are tax-deductible on federal tax returns, they are not on California state returns, a discrepancy that could contribute to the lower membership rates across the state.
The Department of the Treasury projects that 14 million to 21 million U.S. residents will enroll in consumer-directed plans by 2010, pending support of some proposals in Congress.
Kaiser Permanente is now offering a number of consumer-directed health plans and will debut options linked to HSAs in California early next year, in addition to its traditional HMO offerings.
According to UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of PacifiCare, state enrollment in consumer-directed health plans has risen 74% since last year (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 10/13).