Employers Offering More High-Deductible Plans This Enrollment Season
When open enrollment rolls around again this year, workers may be faced with more health insurance choices: "more employers may include a new type of plan that can chop premium payments by nearly 20 percent and give consumers a tax break," The Associated Press reports. "The tradeoff is higher deductibles, which have the potential to swamp customers with big bills. The plans, called consumer-directed health plans, vary from employer to employer and require careful comparison with other choices before making the switch." The plans aren't new-they've "been around for several years, but more employers are considering offering them as health costs rise and the recession fosters a new push to cut costs."
These consumer-directed health plans generally pair "insurance that carries a high annual deductible with an account fed either by an employer or by the employee through pre-tax contributions to help cover costs.The deductibles - which start around $1,200 a year and can approach $10,000 for family coverage - make the customer pay more money out-of-pocket for care before most coverage starts." The idea behind this approach "is to give clients an economic incentive to spend carefully, while providing protection from devastating medical bills." Some companies may fund a "health reimbursement arrangement" to pay for out-of-pocket costs. Others may offer health savings accounts, which both employee and employer can contribute to (Murphy, 10/12).
The Los Angeles Times has the first part of a two-part primer on reconsidering health insurance choices this open enrollment season. Things to consider include: how much you are paying for a spouse and dependents, whether there may be pending layoffs at your company and whether there are any significant changes to which doctors and prescription drugs are covered (Kritz, 10/12).