More Americans are choosing health insurance with high deductibles, lower premiums; study says that strategy pays off

In order to pay lower premiums on their health insurance, Americans are opting for plans that have cheaper  monthly premiums but higher deductibles, USA Today‘s Kelly Kennedy reports.

In 2007, about 4.5 million people opted for high-deductible plans. By 2010 that number had more than doubled to 10 million, an America’s Health Insurance Plans survey found. Having high deductibles saves $85 to $100 a month on premiums, but runs the risk of paying more when services are used. It’s important for purchasers to understand that lower premiums can mean higher doctors’ bills, said Karen Ignagni, president of the industry group.
However, a RAND Corp. study found that people on high-deductible plans pay considerably less than people on traditional plans. “RAND researchers also found that people on high-deductible plans — no matter their income level — received less preventive care: fewer annual exams, fewer cervical cancer screenings and fewer colonoscopies,” Kennedy reports. The federal health reform law is preventing some of that from happening, however. Now, most high-deductible plans have to include basic preventive care like colonoscopies.
High-deductible plans are expected to become more common, especially since 47 percent of people who are insured through their employers have high-deductible plans. “Employers like the plans because it’s cheaper to insure an employee — about $133 less per family at companies that offer only the high-deductible plans, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care,” Kennedy reports. (Read more)
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