A new survey has shown that employers in the United States who are struggling to manage the increasing costs of healthcare insurance are broadening the use of plans with high deductibles to help to keep the monthly premiums at a more affordable level, since more of the burden of medical expenses is falling on the employees.
A Mercer benefits consulting firm survey, which involved the participation of 2,844 public and private employers, showed that this year, 32 percent of businesses that employ more than 500 people now have high-deductible health plans. This is a significant increase from 2010, when that figure was 23 percent.
In total, 13 percent of employees who participated in the survey were now enrolled in a high-deductible plan, whereas only 3 percent had this type of coverage five years ago.
Health insurance plans that have a high deductible force an employee to pay more of the initial expenses, using money that they and their employers have deposited into a savings account created for that purpose. Money held within those accounts can be rolled over from one year to the next, allowing employees to accumulate a greater amount of money to cover medical expenses that may occur in the future.
According to one of the principals in the Los Angeles office for Mercer, Laura Baker, said that “One feature of the [high-deductible] plans that employers like is the flexibility in funding employees’ spending accounts.”
That said, in order to fill the gap that is left by these plans, many businesses and individuals are also seeking additional supplemental health insurance plans in order to make sure that the necessary coverage is there should it be required. These often provides a great deal more coverage and at a lower cost than standard health insurance with a lower deductible.