Defined Contribution Health Insurance Products: Development and Prospects

Health Affairs
Vol. 21, No. 1
January 2002
Christianson, J.B., Parente, S.T., and R. Taylor
pp. 49-64

Defined-contribution health insurance products have received considerable recent attention, stimulated by double-digit increases in health plan premiums and employers' desire to get their employees more involved in health care purchasing decisions. Existing products typically feature a consumer health spending account, a major medical or other insurance policy, and the use of the Internet to support consumer decision making. They vary in their use of provider networks, provider payment approaches, the specific design of spending accounts, marketing strategies, and infrastructure investment. The companies producing these products are now at a critical juncture. They could grow rapidly over the next few years, be acquired by existing health plans, or fail if they do not deliver on their promises.

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