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Will high deductibles cost insurers more money?


The rise in plans sold on health insurance exchanges with high deductibles brings a new concern--consumers who postpone needed care because of the cost. Those decisions could mean the high-deductible health plans backfire on insurers and could lead to even more medical use and greater expenses in the future, The New York Times reported.

Some consumers enrolled in these high-deductible plans are responsible for paying upwards of $6,000 out-of-pocket before their insurance coverage kicks in, the article noted. But despite the increased use of high-deductible plans, consumers still know very little about these types of policies, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"High deductibles will cause some people to not get care they should get," Katherine Hempstead, who directs research on health insurance coverage at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told The Times. "Unfortunately, the people who are attracted to the lower premiums tend to be the ones who are going to have the most trouble coming up with all the cost-sharing if in fact they want to use their health insurance."

What's more, some reports predict that many companies will shift their employees to buy coverage through public or private exchanges, meaning even more consumers could be enrolled in high-deductible plans and possibly delaying needed, but expensive, care.

Insurers hope to offset concerns that consumers will postpone care by developing price transparency tools to help them better understand their financial responsibility for each type of medical service. In particular, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana are leading efforts to make healthcare costs available for consumers to review online by teaming up on a nationwide price transparency initiative.

To learn more:
- read The New York Times article

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UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana team up on price transparency
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