Employers shifting toward high-deductible healthcare plans

In Healthwatch, By Sam Baker – 07/25/12 03:53 PM ET

Businesses and employees are increasingly choosing insurance plans with high up-front costs and low premiums, according to new research from the insurance industry.

Republicans see those plans as a prime example of “consumer-driven” healthcare because they offer a relatively inexpensive option for people who don’t expect to rack up large medical bills.

Roughly 13.5 million people are covered by high-deductible insurance policies — an 18 percent increase from 2011, according to new research from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

AHIP tracked policies that have a deductible of at least $1,200 for a single person or $2,400 for a family. Consumers pay lower monthly premiums in exchange for the higher out-of-pocket costs.

High-deductible plans initially appealed mostly to people who buy coverage on their own, but now the biggest customer base comes from large employers. In 2005, employer-based plans made up only 19 percent of high-deductible plans. That share has risen to 59 percent this year.

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