More employers are offering high-deductible health insurance plans to employees, according to Mercer's annual National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.
Almost one-third of employers--32 percent--with 500 or more workers offer a high-deductible plan, up from 23 percent in 2010. Although the largest employers are the most likely to offer a high-deductible plan, more smaller employers are jumping on the bandwagon. One-fifth of employers with 10 to 499 employees now offer a high-deductible plan, compared to 16 percent a year ago.
The cost of coverage in what are known as high-deductible, account-based consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) is almost 20 percent lower on average than the cost of coverage through a preferred provider organization health plan – $7,787 per employee compared to $9,385, according to Mercer, a global research and consulting firm.
The movement to high-deductible plans is just one of the cost-saving strategies employers are exploring. Just under half of employers, 47 percent, say they will shift some of the cost of health insurance in 2012 to employees by raising deductibles or the percentage of premium workers pay. This is down slightly from the 50 percent of businesses that planned to shift costs in 2011.
Most large employers plan to continue offering health insurance coverage after state-run insurance exchanges become operational in 2014, Mercer says. Only 9 percent of employers with 500 or more employees say they are likely to terminate their health plan and have employees seek coverage in the individual market in 2014. Among employers with 10 to 499 employees, 19 percent say they are likely to terminate their plans. These employers are already less likely to offer health insurance than large employers. In 2011, the percentage of smaller employers offering a health plan benefit fell to 53 percent from 57 percent, the Mercer report says.