September 4, 2013

USE THE CONTRIBUTION TO STEER THEIR CHOICE:

More Employers Overhaul Health Benefits : Some Let Their Workers Pick a Plan From an Online Marketplace (ANNA WILDE MATHEWS, 9/04/13, WSJ)

This fall, tens of thousands of U.S. workers will learn that they're getting their health benefits next year in a radical new way: Their employers will give them a fixed sum of money and let them choose their plan from an online marketplace. [...]

The private exchanges for employers are separate from the government-operated marketplaces that are being created in each state under the federal health law, which will serve individual consumers and small companies.

Employers hope the exchanges will trim costs and make their health spending more predictable. But some experts say workers could be squeezed by the fixed-sum approach if the dollars allotted each year don't keep up with the rising cost of coverage. "Is the defined contribution going to increase with premiums, and how much is it going to go up? It is a question," said Paul Fronstin, director of health research at the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.  [...]

Operators of employer health-insurance marketplaces say many workers pick cheaper coverage than they previously had and that is one way the exchange approach can save money.

In an exchange run by Liazon Corp. that has around 60,000 people enrolled, about 75% of the workers have chosen less-expensive plans, accepting bigger deductibles and other out-of-pocket charges, as well as smaller choices of health-care providers and restrictions such as primary-care gatekeepers. "They want value for their money," said Alan Cohen, Liazon's chief strategy officer.

The employer contribution should keep up with the cost of the high deductible/HSA plan but not other plans.
Posted by at September 4, 2013 7:10 PM
  

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