Tips for introducing a CDHP to your organization

Focus on the Foundation: The Three Principles of CDHPs

Facilitators will communicate the plan’s philosophy of transparency, responsibility, and opportunity to employees as well as what the plan covers and how. In every communication, focus on the direct impact these principles will have on employees. Keep the points outlined in the following front and center in all your communications and education meetings. Staying on message is critical to successful implementation because it helps your employees speak the same language.


Awareness. The first step toward becoming knowledgeable on any subject is accepting that you may not have all of the information. It’s no accident that consumers don’t know how much health services cost. Insurers and providers keep them in the dark because their contracts prohibit full disclosure of how and what insurers are paid. Let employees know that they’ve been in the dark about health care. When they realize that important information hasn’t been shared with them, they’ll start asking questions that most insurers and physicians aren’t used to answering. Your employees will want to understand their alternatives. You can inform them that the CDHP solution creates awareness, and that the plan encourages the full disclosure of all treatment options, costs, and fees

Information. Once employees are aware of gaps in their knowledge, they’ll want to know more about healthcare costs and how their personal situations can be better managed. The EOB, which an employee will receive from his or her insurance company, is the document that will help the employee better understand the cost of healthcare services and verify the services received. Tell your employees that the EOB will not only detail the costs of their healthcare expenses but also break down each expense into its individual components, illustrating how much money goes to hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies. Members won’t have to make a special request to access this information—it’s an integral step in the healthcare process with a CDHP. An EOB will be issued for each medical service they access, so they’ll always know the full and discounted cost of their care.


Increasing knowledge. With knowledge comes responsibility. When employees understand that they have the power of choice, they can take time to review their options and make more informed decisions. Reading the EOB carefully and understanding what it says is one way consumers can inform themselves about their personal medical expenses. Individuals can be more engaged in their healthcare choices in many ways and take steps to change how they live their lives and interact with the healthcare system.

Resources. Cost-comparative tools can be trustworthy sources, such as federal and state healthcare cost websites. Many health insurance companies offer nurse help lines, a valuable resource for employees that will save them time and money. Nurses can provide much of the same information and knowledge a doctor would, but the telephone service normally costs employees nothing because carriers offer it as a value-added benefit. Telemedicine is also making inroads by offering consumers the opportunity to seek medical care (primary care, behavioral health, and nutrition counseling) from the comfort of their own homes. This form of healthcare is usually less than $100 per visit, substantially less expensive than pursuing other more traditional options. It’s crucial to the plan’s success that employees learn how to improve their personal health and rely less on health services; resources of the kind we’re discussing may encourage them to change negative habits. These simple tools are probably news to most people, so build awareness of them into your communication plan.

Considering alternatives. Encourage employees to choose less expensive medical care when possible. Someone with a broken arm should go to the hospital, but someone who knows he has only twisted his ankle may want to ice it for a day or two, keep it elevated, and try to stay off his feet. If the ankle is still sore and swollen after a few days, he would likely see a doctor, but it’s important to take alternative measures first. These measures could possibly save a few hundred dollars that it would cost to have a doctor give the same advice, or to fill a prescription for a painkiller when an over-the-counter drug would suffice. Healthcare cost and quality depend on where you live, who you are, and what’s known about your condition and will factor into your decision-making process.

Improving health and wellness. Learning how your health directly affects your healthcare spending can be a major wake-up call. Employees should be encouraged to think about how they can improve their health through diet, exercise, and stress management. Health improvement plans that are determined for them won’t work. They must decide where their health needs the most improvement, and what sorts of initiatives will inspire them to make meaningful changes.


Reducing healthcare costs and saving money This is a major benefit of CDHPs and should be highlighted throughout the communication and education process. Employees can use their healthcare accounts as a vehicle for the tax-favored payment of healthcare services. The more they live by the CDHP philosophy, the more value or equity they can build in their CDHP. By becoming informed, taking advantage of alternative approaches for minor health issues (e.g., speaking to a health nurse, or taking advantage of telemedicine), and staying in good physical shape, they’re more likely to have value or equity left over at the end of each year, which rolls over and builds over time. This built-in incentive creates a significant financial opportunity for CDHP members.

Becoming healthier. Aside from the financial benefits of improving one’s health, there are also obvious health benefits. By taking advantage of this unique value proposition, employees can change their lifestyles and become healthier, stronger, and more productive in every area of their lives.

Contributing to the greater good. Though it’s compelling to think about the personal advantages of CDHPs, it’s important to remind employees about the big picture. CDHPs are a solution that helps consumers personally reduce one of the biggest expenses every employer has (usually second only after payroll), which can be a real threat to most organizations’ financial health.

Coaches' Takeaway

A CDHP is a business strategy and culture change.  Focus on the  philosophy of transparency, responsibility, and opportunity to employees as well as what the plan covers.

Tools & Resources

CDHPCoach’s Storage Facility, where the Coach has organized and compiled a vast amount of tools and resources for you to access.


Housed here are key components and information within the book, Bend the Healthcare Trend which was the impetus behind the CDHPCoach.