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High-Deductible Insurance

Since being introduced in 2001, “consumer-driven health plans” — those with high deductibles — have grown to 15% of the market. Among our Best Companies, however, only five include them in their benefit offerings. Consumer-driven health plans have deductibles of at least $1,300 for an individual, along with a pretax HSA or HRA account that employees can use to cover co-pays.

Paul Fronstin

“I don’t think there’s a good number on how much employers will save. There’s no rule of thumb.” — Paul Fronstin, director of health research and education program, Employee Benefit Research Institute

The plans were intended to save money and make employees wiser consumers of health care. Researchers say they have saved money, but the resources to let employees make informed choices have been lacking. The result has been employees cutting back on preventive screenings and prescriptions for chronic conditions. “We didn’t give them the information to make informed decisions. The tools are just catching up,” says Paul Fronstin, director of health research and education program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington.

Savings for employers have been difficult to quantify, Fronstin says. As is always the case with insurance, it depends on the demographics of the employee pool, their use of services, how well educated they are on the plan and choices and lots of other factors. One study, in fact, found costs increased for a couple of companies.

Eric Corcoran, liaison program director at Management Specialists Services in Gainesville, a company on our list, says a consumer-driven health plan is part of a variety of health plans the company is able to offer because it uses a third-party HR firm. The array of plans is “well worth” the cost because of the advantage it gives the company in hiring and retention, he says. “Companies our size are not known for having so much,” Corcoran says. The company employs 35 to 50 and covers half of employees’ medical premiums. Additional benefits it offers are personal mental health wellness days with full pay and identity theft insurance for each employee.

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