Businesses and individuals alike are trying to save money by increasing their up-front costs.
Though a high deductible health plan had once been considered a last resort alternative for companies that had limited resources, are now becoming the new normal, including among Fortune 500 corporations.
According to a senior actuary at Towers Watson, Mark Olsen, “A number of employers have looked at this over the last couple of years, and they’ve said, ‘No, this isn’t the year, no this isn’t the year.” However Olsen added that this year, they have decided that it’s time. In his opinion, “I don’t really see it stopping at this point.”
Among the large companies participating in a survey by that benefits consultant firm, 70 percent said they would be offering a high deductible health plan by next year, in combination with accounts that will allow medical services to be purchased by employees using pretax dollars.
Almost 1 in 5 of the survey respondents said that the only option by 2013 would be that type of policy.
This means that within the next decade, including government employees, approximately half of all workers with employers that sponsor their medical coverage could be covered by a high deductible health plan.
Though this may help to keep health costs under control, and it could encourage patients to take better care of themselves, it also means that they will need to pay more up front and may balk to undergo all but the most vital tests. According to many analysts, this trend toward high deductible health plan, which are also known as “consumer driven” coverage, could also be contributor to the recent slowing of the skyrocketing medical expenses, though another factor remains the reluctance to purchase medical services within such a struggling economy.
At the same time, it is causing many consumers to look to supplementary coverage, when they had never considered it before. This is because these additional policies can help to fill the gap that is left behind by their standard high deductible health plan. For many workers, supplemental health insurance will cover deductibles and co-payments that would usually make them face hefty out of pocket costs whenever they need to make a claim.