GAO report on HRAs

The Government Accountability Office yesterday released a report on health reimbursement arrangements, a type of consumer driven plan that has been offered in the FEHB Program since 2003. The report indicates that

[B]ased on data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—the agency that administers the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)—about 57,000 of the nearly 8 million enrollees in the FEHBP were enrolled in CDHPs in 2009. About 42,000 of these FEHBP enrollees were in HRAs and about 15,000 were in HSA-eligible plans.

Those enrollees are concentrated in the APWU, Aetna, GEHA, and MHBP consumer driven options. HRA plans typically feature a higher annual deductible, a personal spending account (or health reimbursement account) and generous preventive care, the idea being to give enrollees some skin in the game. According to the report, “Spending and utilization for enrollees in HRAs generally increased by a smaller amount or decreased compared with those in traditional plans that GAO reviewed.” The GAO also suggested that these options attract better risks than traditional plans.