Analysts call CDHPs an untapped market

MINNEAPOLIS – Consumer-directed health plans, or CDHPs, have garnered a lot of attention and growth in the last couple of years, but industry experts say the market is still untapped.

Those benefiting the most from CDHPs – whether they be payers, financial services firms, benefits administration firms or other third-party administrators – will be the ones who provide the most tools and education to empower consumers.

“CDHPs show the potential to capture more than one third of the commercially insured market by 2012,” said Carl Doty, senior analyst at Forrester Research, at a recent Webinar sponsored by Lighthouse1.

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According to a recent Forrester Research survey, however, consumers are “confused, skeptical and dissatisfied” with their CDHP experience, said Doty.

Stakeholders need to fill the education and communication void and provide access to personal healthcare finance solutions.

Doty said consumers require better tools that give them personalized, relevant data and quality and cost transparency, as well as financial planning and management practice applications to help manage healthcare expenditures.

While  noting  Fidelity Investments has a successful benefits platform, Doty said it’s up to stakeholders to step up to the plate.

The convergence of health and wealth presents enormous opportunity, said Dennis Triplett, president of healthcare services at Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Bank.

Triplett views health savings accounts, or HSAs, as a way to preserve customer relationships, broaden appeal to employers, improve one’s value proposition and use existing software and infrastructure.

Employer groups will need to determine whether a custodian or an outsourced or in-house end-to-end integrated system business model works best for their company.

Triplett said banking institutions didn’t take advantage of individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, when they first came out and lost that market to brokerage and mutual fund companies.

If consumer behavior with HSAs mirrors consumer behavior with IRAs, then banking institutions need to make sure that their custodian business strategy supports this, said Triplett.