How some employers make high-deductible health plans successful

High-deductible and consumer-driven health plans have been a tough sell for employers trying to save money.  That seems to be changing recently, and you might find workers a little more open to such plans – if you follow the lead of successful companies. The quick lesson about HDHPs and CDHPs is that high-deductible plans don’t sell themselves; employers have to make an effort to lead employees into the plans.

To illustrate, let’s go back to 2006, around the time of HDHP and CDHP rollouts. Of all workers in employee health plans, the percentage enrolled in HD/CDHPs went from 2.7% in 2006 to just 3.8% in 2007. Possible reason for the minuscule growth: Old-fashioned opposition to anything new, plus horror stories from employees about issues with HD/CDHPs, such as –

  • no money in the deductible kitty
  • providers refusing to discuss price or negotiate post-treatment
  • health plans refusing to require providers to accept negotiated contract rates

Of course, after that time, health costs continued to rise – for employers and employees – and the economy plunged, so everyone started to give HD/CDHPs a fresh look.

Jump ahead to this year and a survey of 787 companies by benefits consultant Workscape, Inc. The survey found that:

  • HD/CDHPs are now offered in nearly 50% of small and midsize organizations and almost 66% of large companies.
  • From 2008 to 2009, there was a 10% increase in adoption of the plans by employees.

And, from the survey, here might be the reason for the increases: About 67% of employers said they offer programs that help employees make informed decisions about participating in a CDHP or HDHP, and 40% use incentives to encourage employees to participate in health/disease-prevention programs that make high-deductible plans attractive.

In other words, your benefits people can’t just throw the plan out there and expect employees to latch onto it. It has to be carefully explained and marketed to them.

0 thoughts on “How some employers make high-deductible health plans successful”

  1. Our company pays 100% of the health insurance premiums for both the employee and their dependents. Very expenseive but obviously an excellent way to attract and keep good employees. Several years ago, with the ever increasing cost of health insurance, we decided to offer to plans to our employees. We now offer the high-deductible plan paid 100% by the company. We also offer the traditional co-pay with a low deductible. If employees opt for the co-pay/low deductible they pay the difference in the premiums with a pre-tax payroll deduction. Employees who opt for the high-deductible are able to contribute to an H.S.A.

    Another advantage to the company is that they high-deductible plans require that a $6000 out of pocket be met if an employee + spouse are covered. This has resulted in employees not adding their spouses if spouses are covered by another plan. The same is true for those employees who opt for the co-pay/kiw deductible plan. If they add their spouses and/or dependents they have a higher payroll deduction to compensate for the difference in the health insurance premiums.

    So far offering the two health plans has worked well for us. Our employees are satisifed with the options offered.

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