Health Care Costs
Employer-sponsored health plans generally provide adequate coverage for workers, with employers in 2004 paying 84% of total medical costs for enrolled employees, according to a study in Medical Care Research and Review. This marked a 1% decrease from the amount of total medical costs that employers covered in 2000.
Researchers found that although the shift toward high-deductible, employer-sponsored health plans reduces out-of-pocket costs for most workers, people who frequently use medical services likely would not experience similar cost reductions, and those who sought care outside of their health plan's network could face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.
To address concerns about high out-of-pocket costs stemming from high-deductible health plans, the authors recommend that policymakers consider:
- Promoting health plans that distribute costs based on members' income;
- Educating workers about the cost benefits of using health care providers in their health plan's preferred networks; and
- Maintaining availability of managed care options, especially for low-income people who use medical services frequently (McDevitt et al., Medical Care Research and Review, April 2007).