Employers Offer Stipends Toward Non-Group Policies
Some small- and medium-size employers are providing stipends to workers who purchase their own health coverage through defined contribution programs, including contributions to health savings accounts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, "By adopting such strategies, employers aim to shield themselves from premium increases and reduce administrative burdens, while providing employees with help toward their medical expenses, a key element for recruiting and keeping staff."
Sam Gibbs, a senior vice president at eHealthInsurance Services, said the trend represents a "paradigm shift from employer-sponsored plans to employee-owned coverage."
However, critics contend that individual policies carry challenges that workers with health problems would not face under a group plan, such as costly premiums and coverage exclusions of pre-existing medical conditions. Critics also say such employees could "wind up without insurance in the state-regulated individual market," the Journal reports (Knight, Wall Street Journal, 1/29).