The federal government still has a couple of years to work out the details of how basic health care services will be provided to all consumers. In the meantime, employers and employees are looking for ways to save money on health care. One of the fastest growing forms of health care insurance purchased last year was the high-deductible health plan with a savings option (HDHP/SO). Over 13% of workers with employer sponsored health coverage are now enrolled in an HDHP/SO.
The cost of basic health insurance for a family plan jumped from $6,438 to $9,773 for employers during the past decade. Employees felt the pinch too as their contribution rose from $1,619 to $3,997 for the same time period. It’s numbers like this that have businesses looking for less expensive alternatives. And many have decided to offer an HDHP/SO option. Under this plan, the average family pays out $3,522 in premiums and the average employer pays out $8,861. What’s the catch? It’s all in the high deductible. After premiums, employees must spend an additional $1,903 in health care expenses before meeting the deductible. It's all about shifting some of the burden to employees, prompting consumers to live healthier lifestyles and accepting that insurance is increasingly meant to cover catastrophic needs.
A recent report issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that 69% of companies now offer health benefits. This number is significantly higher than the 60% of firms who offered benefits in 2009. Analysts noted the fastest growth rate is occurring in smaller firms with between 3–9 employees. This growth rate may have been spurred by the new small business tax credit in place for companies that provide insurance to their workers.
Given this change in the healthcare landscape, insurance companies are likely to continue promoting the benefits of enrolling in a variety of high-deductible plans.[Source: Employer Health Benefits. 2010 Summary of findings. Kaiser Family foundation. Kff.org. 2010. Web. 14 Sept. 2010; Healthcare.gov]