CDC: Significant Rise in High-Deductible Health Plans Among Employers

Employees more likely to face financial barriers to care, researchers find
Employees more likely to face financial barriers to care, researchers find

HealthDay News — High-deductible health plans are becoming more common among U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, according to a report issued June 6 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The NCHS analysis is based on an early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, a quarterly survey that provides estimates of health insurance access and coverage. In 2016, a high-deductible health plan was defined as having an annual deductible of at least $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage.

According to the report, 39.3% of adults with job-based coverage were enrolled in a high-deductible plan in 2016, up from 26.3% in 2011. The researchers found that people with job-based high-deductible plans were more likely to forgo or delay needed medical care than adults in traditional health plans that have low or no deductibles: 8.5% in high-deductible health plans versus 4.1% in employment-based traditional plans. People with job-based coverage were also more likely to be in a family having problems paying medical bills if they were enrolled in a high-deductible plan (15.4%) versus a traditional plan (9.0%). 

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The NCHS report also examined trends among people who purchase their own health coverage, including those who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. The investigators found that 16.1% of people in directly purchased high-deductible plans had problems paying medical bills, about the same as in directly purchased traditional plans (15.9%). These people generally have lower household income. Roughly half (51.1%) of these direct purchasers had high-deductible coverage in 2016, similar to that seen in 2011 (51.2%).

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