Out-Of-Pocket Health Expenses Continue To Rise

Out-Of-Pocket Health Expenses Continue To Rise

New report adds to evidence that employees are paying more for their own care.

It’s not your imagination. You are paying more out of pocket for your health and medical services.
 
A spate of new reports documents the continuing shift of health care expenses to individuals from employers, health plans and other payers.
 
The latest comes from United Benefit Advisors, the Indianapolis-based employee benefits consulting firm. The new UBA report said the median in-network annual deductible for an individual enrolled in an employer-sponsored PPO health plan jumped 50 percent this year to $1,500 from $1,000 last year.
 
The median out-of-network annual deductible, meanwhile, rose 13.3 percent this year to $3,400 from $3,000 for an individual, according to the report, which is based on a UBA survey of nearly 20,000 health plans offered to employees by nearly 12,000 employers.
 
The UBA attributed the double-digit increase in enrollee deductibles to two factors: employers raising deductibles to keep their own premium increases as low as possible and health insurers mirroring their health plans for employers to health plans being sold on public health insurance exchanges created by the Accountable Care Act.
 
“As long as insurance carriers are required to meet the ACA metal levels, we can expect to see plan changes in this same direction,” the UBA said in a press release announcing the numbers.
 
What set plan deductibles are and what individuals actually pay toward those deductibles are two different things. Yet, what individuals actually are paying also is increasing.
 
A recent study by researchers from the University of Michigan found out-of-pocket costs incurred by hospitalized patients rose 37 percent to $1,013 in 2013 from $738 in 2009. The study, which appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine, attributed the jump to increases in patients’ deductibles and co-insurance.
 
Separately, a recent study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the amount employees paid toward their annual deductibles more than tripled to $353 in 2014 from $99 in 2004.
 
As previously reported by Twin Cities Business, large employers surveyed by the National Business Group on Health ranked “increasing employee cost-sharing” as the third most-effective method of controlling health care costs. Ranked fourth was requiring employees to enroll in a high-deductible, consumer-directed health plan.