The median deductible required by employers for individual coverage in PPO plans jumped to $1,000 in 2008 from $500 last year, according to the “National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans” issued by Mercer. Back in 2000, only about half of employers imposed a deductible for PPO coverage, and the average deductible at that time was just $250.
Surprisingly, this jump was recorded in traditional PPOs — not the high-deductible health plans where a deductible of at least $1,100 is required in order to deposit tax-free money in a health savings account (HSA).
“The introduction of the HSA may have changed employers’ thinking on just how high a deductible can go without causing employees to revolt,” says Blaine Bos, a Mercer partner. “Raising the deductible has become the fallback for employers faced with cost increases they can’t handle. It’s the easiest way to reduce cost without taking more out of every employee’s paycheck.”
And although employers were able to hold benefit cost increases to about 6 percent in 2008, it has meant shifting more cost to employees.