Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fwd: qotd: Employers expanding use of higher deductibles

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Employers expanding use of higher deductibles
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 05:51:38 -0800
From: Don McCanne <don@mccanne.org>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <quote-of-the-day@mccanne.org>

Kaiser Family Foundation
November 2012
The Prevalence and Cost of Deductibles in Employer Sponsored Insurance:
A View from the 2012 Employer Health Benefit Survey

The percent of covered workers enrolled in a plan with a general annual
deductible has increased significantly over time. In 2006, just over
half (52%) of covered workers had a deductible for single coverage,
compared with almost three-quarters (72%) in 2012.

Overall, the average general annual deductible is $1,097 for covered
workers enrolled in a single coverage plan requiring a deductible; an
increase of 88% since 2006.

Deductibles are much higher for workers enrolled in HDHP/SO plans
(savings options), with 25% of workers enrolled in a plan with a
deductible between $1,000 and $1,400, and 25% of workers in a plan with
a deductible greater than $2,500.

Although workers at small firms are no more likely to be enrolled in
health coverage that includes a deductible, they typically face much
higher deductibles than workers at large firms. The average deductible
for covered workers enrolled in single coverage at a small firm is
nearly twice as much as the deductible for covered workers at larger firms.

Covered workers enrolled in PPO and POS plans with many higher-wage
workers tend to have lower deductibles than their counterparts at firms
with fewer higher-wage workers. Covered workers in HMO, PPO and HDHP/SO
plans at firms with some unionized workers have lower general annual
deductibles than workers at firms without unions.


In addition to contributing more towards premiums, covered workers are
increasingly faced with higher cost sharing. A larger proportion of
workers are required to meet a deductible prior to utilizing services
and these deductibles are increasing in size. It has become commonplace
for covered workers to be enrolled in a plan with a deductible of $1,000
or more. While many working families have sufficient savings and
coverage in case of a medical emergency, the growth in workers'
contributions and cost sharing may increasingly become a financial
strain on some households.


Comment: Ever higher deductibles have now become the standard for
employer-sponsored plans. The new state exchange plans to be offered to
individuals and small businesses will have to have higher deductibles as
well because of their comparatively low actuarial values.

The conclusion in this report states that "the growth in workers'
contributions and cost sharing may increasingly become a financial
strain on some households." This is an overly conservative statement
since innumerable studies have shown that high deductibles already do
cause both financial hardship and impairment of access to appropriate
health care.

A single payer system controls costs without the necessity of imposing
financial barriers such as high deductibles. Let's change to policies
that take care of patients first rather than policies that shift costs
from employer or government budgets to individual patients, especially
since ultimately we're all funding those budgets anyway, whether as
consumers or taxpayers.

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