Policy forum on consumer-driven health benefits

Employment-based health insurance benefits are the most common source of health insurance in the United States. Over 163 million Americans under age 65, representing 67 percent of the population, are covered by employment-based health insurance. Because of double-digit health benefit cost increases during the late 1980s and early 1990s, employment-based health benefit plans began to move workers into managed care arrangements. The movement to managed care brought about temporary declines in the rate of health benefit cost increases. Today, the cost of providing health benefits to workers is again increasing, often at a rate exceeding 15 percent. Employers are once again examining changes to employment-based health insurance benefits for several reasons: to control future health benefit cost increases, to respond to employee demands for more choice, and in some cases, to distance themselves further from health care decisions. These new benefit designs have been referred to as "defined contribution health benefits" and "consumer-driven health benefits." This grant will fund the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) to convene a policy forum to learn more about consumer-driven health benefits to gain a better understanding of the implications of such plans for workers and their families, employers, and public policy. The policy forum will bring together a cross-section of EBRI sponsors, congressional and executive branch staff, employee benefit experts, and representatives from academia, interest groups, and labor to discuss consumer-driven health benefits. The project has three deliverables. The first is the policy forum itself. The forum will examine the early experiences with consumer-driven health benefits and consider the potential impact on employee health benefits and the health care system today and the future. Participants in the forum will discuss relevant questions and issues and address the implications of consumer-driven health benefits. Second, the proceedings of the policy forum will be published in a book that will be disseminated to all members of Congress and their staff, legislative committee staff, other government agencies, and EBRI sponsors. The book will be sold to for-profit organizations at a nominal price. Third, the information generated from the policy forum will be used to support the education agenda of the Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC). The mission of CHEC is to reduce the number of uninsured Americans and improve the health of the general public through information and research that helps individuals and plan sponsors understand the value and uses of private and public health insurance.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $44,810.00

Awarded on: 3/25/2002

Time frame: 4/1/2002 - 3/31/2003

Grant Number: 45149


Education & Research Fund of Employee Benefit Research Institute

1100 13th Street, N.W., Suite 878
Washington, 20005-4051


Paul Fronstin
Project Director