Employers shift costs with 12% surge in deductibles
The average deductible for employer-sponsored health plans has risen 12% this year to $1,478 annually, and has exceeded $2,000 at small businesses, according to a new Kaiser/HRET survey, which looked at more than 1,900 small and large employers to analyze the trends around employer-sponsored health insurance.
The rapid increase in deductibles, which puts more healthcare costs on the shoulders of employees, has been a significant factor in helping employer-sponsored plans slow down their premium increases to "historically low rates," the study found. It noted that since 2011 the average family premium has gone up just 20%, compared to 31% from 2006 and 2011, and 63% from 2001 to 2006.
The analysis illustrates the shift between plan types, showing 29% of all employees are now in high-deductible plans compared to 20% in 2014, while those employees in higher cost PPO plans have gone down from 58% in 2014 to 48% in 2016.
The high-deductible trend may be proving a double-edged sword. While the survey highlights its value in helping to restrain premiums, other data have indicated it to be impacting healthcare consumers' behavior and ability to pay.
The survey credits the shift between plan types for reducing the average premium increase by half a percentage point for each of the past two years.
However, it also points out that average deductibles remain on an upward trajectory with 83% of covered workers now facing a deductible for single coverage. For the first time ever, 51% of all covered workers have deductibles of at least $1,000 annually for single coverage. It added, however, in cases where employers contribute to HSAs or HRAs, which employees can put toward their deductible expenses, the effective deductible is lowered. Looking at it that way, employer contributions could be expected to reduce the employee's share of a deductible of at least $1,000 to 38%, the survey found.
A new Health Care Cost Institute study found patients with high-deductible plans to be paying more out of pocket than others, while also consuming less care--which could be for better or worse.
Also just recently, the Cleveland Clinic called out high deductible health plans as a major impediment to its revenue, with CFO Steve Glass arguing that despite their popularity, the plans are burdens to patients and make it very difficult for hospitals to collect payment.