are increasingly pushing enrollment in high-deductible,
low-premium health insurance plans, according to
benefits experts, which means it might be time to break
out the calculator and reconsider current policies.
across the country are getting their first looks at what
they will be paying for health insurance in 2015 with
the start of open enrollment, the annual window in which
workers can make changes to their elected benefits,
including health insurance. Open enrollment is typically
held in October and November each year.
assume that nothing’s changing even if your current
option is still available," said Craig Rosenberg,
practice leader of health and welfare benefits at
consulting firm Aon Hewitt. "There are probably
some new choices that are available for you."
of employers aim to offer high-deductible plans coupled
with a health savings account in the next three years,
and 20 percent will only offer those type of plans,
according to data from Mercer, a financial services
company with a health and benefits arm. To qualify for a
health savings account, a plan has to have a minimum
deductible of $1,250 for employee-only coverage and
$2,500 for family coverage. Others are offering private
health exchanges, which give employees several options
costs likely will rise again in 2015, by about 4
percent, according to Mercer, modest compared with
previous years. But some employees are seeing much
sharper increases, making high-deductible plans more
attractive. Consumers who opt not to obtain coverage,
either through their employer or through the federal
Affordable Care Act, will also pay more. Those
individuals will pay a greater penalty for not securing
coverage, increasing to $325, or 2 percent of household
income, whichever fee is greater, from $95 this year, or
1 percent of yearly household income.
low-premium plans are often called consumer-directed
health plans and paired with a health savings account
that allows workers to pay for eligible expenses with
tax-free dollars, experts said.
have a financial incentive to offer such plans. Under
the Affordable Care Act, employers in 2018 that offer
plans that cost more than $10,200 for an individual or
$27,500 for a family will be charged a 40 percent tax on
the amount exceeding the threshold. By raising
deductibles and lowering premiums, companies will lower
their chance of triggering the tax.
Umland, director of research for health and benefits for
Mercer, said more than one-third of companies would hit
that excise tax threshold if they made no changes to
their plan offerings.
in consumer directed plans typically cost about 20
percent less than a traditional PPO or HMO plan, she
you’ve been scared off of consumer directed plans,
this might be the year to man-up and take a look,"
Umland said. "Employers want to get people into
those plans for a variety of reasons. That’s the plan
where they see long-term cost control, so to get folks
to join it, it’s bargain basement premium
Coletto, a Chicago-based partner in Mercer’s health
and benefits practice, said employer health insurance
plans are more likely to add an additional fee for
dependents (spouses and adult children) who have access
to health insurance at another workplace this year.
care reform puts more responsibility on employers to
cover more of their employees," Coletto said.
"Employers who are now covering more employees may
make it more expensive to cover a dependent. Make sure
you fully understand what costs are changing. That
decision may be different than what it was before."
exchanges — run by companies like Aon Hewitt, Mercer,
Buck Consultants and Towers Watson — are predicted to
grow in popularity in coming years, with 33 percent of
more than 1,200 companies surveyed by Aon Hewitt saying
they would prefer to offer a private health exchange in
the next three to five years. Just 5 percent will use a
private health exchange in 2015.
Hewitt started its private exchange program for active
employees three years ago with three companies. In 2015,
Aon Hewitt anticipates about 30 companies will enroll
its exchange, covering 850,000 employees and dependents.
Mercer has signed up 170 companies in its private
exchange for 2015, covering 975,000 active employees and
dependents. The private health exchanges offer a variety
of plans, from PPOs, more expensive month to month, to
low-premium consumer directed plans.
STORY CAN END HERE)
FOR HEALTH INSURANCE ENROLLMENT
much did you spend on health care out of pocket last
year? Ask your health plan provider for your past
medical and dental claims to calculate last year’s
for any big changes
you planning to have a baby? Did someone in your family
develop a new medical condition?
among doctors groups as well as hospital systems are
reshaping the provider community, which could affect
whether a consumer driven health plan is right for you
lower how much money is taken out of each paycheck but
leave you with a large deductible if anything happens.
Couple this with a health savings account to help pay
for out-of-pocket costs.
whether to put a dependent on the same plan
your spouse or adult child has access to health care
through another provider, it may be more cost-effective
to have him or her enroll with his or her employer plan,
depending on fees.
advantage of health and wellness programs
companies offer financial incentives for completing
certain questionnaires or various health-related
how your coverage relates to public Affordable Care Act
you’re eligible for health care through your employer,
you won’t get federal tax credits to buy insurance
through the public exchanges.
Adapted from materials and interviews with experts from
Aon Hewitt, Mercer and the Employee Benefits Research