Expect Health Insurance Rates for Workers to Go Up in 2009

While this will not come as any great surprise, it is a bit disheartening given the current state of the U.S. economy. Americans who have health insurance through an employer will likely be taking on more of a financial burden health insurance wise this year.

There aren’t too many workers who passed on taking a closer look at their medical options this year during the annual “open enrollment” period at their companies. Most are now forking over more cash to cover a larger premium, paying higher out-of-pocket expenses and doing more self-care. There are a great number of these employees who have also gone to less expensive “catastrophic” coverage.

The state of the economy has become so desperate that those who still have work are readily accepting fewer benefits and paying lower contributions. This is a radical change in the system because it means employees are giving up HMOs or PPOs that used to provide them nearly unlimited access to physicians, with small co-pays for visits and prescriptions.

In many instances the subtle switch is now to high-deductible health plans with a health savings account or health reimbursement account, otherwise known as HSA

and HRA respectively. In part, this shift of choices on the part of workers is due to what they are being offered by their employers. This year virtually 46 percent made it a point to offer their employees some type of account-based health plan. It’s evident the trend will continue until the situation with the economy is sorted out.

Smart employers are combining things such as an HSA with a high-deductible health policy, in the bid to cut-back on the cost of insurance premiums. By implementing this type of coverage in the workplace, the employer and employees become partners in trying to reduce the costs of medical expenses. It will be interesting to see the long-term results of this new approach to cost effectiveness in managing health expenses.

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