High-Deductible Plans To Account for Majority of Exchange Offerings
High-deductible health plans might account for more than half of the coverage options available to consumers through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges during the upcoming open enrollment period, which begins tomorrow, Modern Healthcare reports.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, high-deductible plans in 2015 are those that have annual deductibles of $1,300 or more for individuals and $2,600 or more for families.
Specifically, high-deductible plans could account for 60% to more than 80% of all plans sold in a given exchange, according to Modern Healthcare.
Chartis Group principal Brigitte Nettesheim said, "I thought (high-deductible plans) would level off this year, and they continue to grow. They will still be a significant portion of the type of plan designs offered." According to Modern Healthcare, insurers are offering more high-deductible plans in an effort to hold down premium rates (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 11/13).
Further, more employers are pushing for workers to enroll in such health plans, according to benefits experts. According to data from Mercer, about 75% of employers are anticipated to offer high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts within the next three years, while 20% will solely offer such coverage options (Chicago Tribune/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).
Survey: Consumers Face Difficulty Paying Deductibles, Health Costs
Meanwhile, a new Commonwealth Fund survey found that three in five low-income U.S. adults and around 50% of those with moderate incomes think their plans' deductibles are "difficult or impossible to afford." Further, the study noted that around 13% of U.S. adults spend at least 10% of their incomes on out-of-pocket health care costs (Modern Healthcare, 11/13).
The situation worsens for individuals with low incomes or chronic conditions, according to the survey. The results showed that people with incomes below the federal poverty level are around four times more likely to spend more than 10% of their income on medical care than those with incomes higher than 400% of FPL. In addition, people with chronic conditions are about two times more likely to spend at least 5% of their income on medical care.
Survey respondents were asked to think about the copayments they made for physician and hospital visits, as well as money spent on prescription drugs and dental and vision care within the past year. Researchers then tallied the costs as shares of the respondents' incomes (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/13).
According to the study authors, the poll "show[s] that these trends toward greater cost-sharing, combined with little or no growth in median family income, have left many working Americans in the middle and lower end of the income distribution with large health care cost burdens." In addition, the authors added that such cost-sharing "is affecting people's medical decisions in ways that should be of concern to policymakers and the medical community" (Modern Healthcare, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.