WellPoint To Expand Consumer-Driven Health Plans
Officials for Indiana-based WellPoint, the largest U.S. health insurer in terms of membership, on Tuesday announced that the company on Jan. 1, 2007, will begin to offer consumer-driven health plans to individuals and companies of all sizes, the Indianapolis Star reports. WellPoint currently offers only large companies consumer-driven health plans, which have higher deductibles and lower monthly premiums than traditional plans and often include health savings accounts or health reimbursement accounts.
About 700,000 of the 34 million WellPoint members currently are enrolled in consumer-driven health plans, a 30% increase from last year.
Jason Gorevic, senior vice president of the WellPoint market in New York and head of the effort to expand consumer-driven health plans offered by the company, said, "We see the demand for consumer-driven plans increasing, and that's happening across all segments of the market."
However, according to Alwyn Cassil, a spokesperson for the Center for Studying Health System Change, most U.S. residents prefer traditional health plans over consumer-driven plans when they have a choice. She said, "Every year you hear this is going to be the year they take off, and it hasn't happened yet," adding, "If they're going to become mainstream, they have to gain more than the toehold they have right now in the employer market" (Lee, Indianapolis Star, 8/23).