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Health Insurance Premiums Rise 6.1 Percent in 2007, Less Rapidly Than in Recent Years But Still Faster Than Wages and Inflation
Date:9/11/2007

vided between high-deductible plans that qualify for a Health Saving Account (HSA) and plans with a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). These plans feature a high-deductible plan and a tax-preferred savings option, from which employees can pay for their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Such plans are often described as consumer-driven because people pay directly for a greater share of their health care and may have an incentive to minimize its cost. They also may offer tools to help consumers choose providers based on cost and quality.

This year, 10 percent of firms offered a consumer-driven plan to their workers, which is up from (but not statistically different than) the 7 percent of firms reporting this for 2006. Firms with at least 1,000 workers are more likely to offer such plans, with nearly one in five (18 percent) offering one. Looking toward 2008, few firms that don't already offer such plans report that they are very likely to add a HRA plan (3 percent) or a HSA-qualified plan (2 percent).

Premiums for these high-deductible plans are generally lower than for other types of plans, though in addition to the premiums, employers may also contribute money to the savings accounts. The survey finds that firms on average pay a total of $7,815 toward the cost of family coverage for a HSA-qualified plan (including $714 for the account) and $10,179 toward the cost of family coverage for a high-deductible plan with a HRA (including $1,800 for the account). Compared to the $8,879 average firm contributions for other types of plans, employer contributions are lower for HSA-qualified plans and higher for plans with HRAs.

Businesses made no contribution at all to the savings account for roughly half of all workers enrolled in an HSA for family coverage, leaving workers to pay the generally higher out-of-pocket costs associated with their high-deductible plan.

"Consumer-driven plans have established a foothold in the employer market, but they
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SOURCE Kaiser Family Foundation; HRET
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