Health plan deductibles, co-payments surge

Deductibles, co-payments for office visits, and prescription drug co-payments have been increasing in recent years for workers with employee-sponsored health coverage, according to a new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Among workers with employee-only coverage in a preferred provider organization (PPO), for example, the percentage with a deductible of at least $500 increased from 14 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2009. It was 48 percent in 2008 and 36 percent in 2007.

Deductibles are higher and have increased faster in small firms than in large firms, according to the study, which appears in the May 2010 EBRI Issue Brief.

Additionally, the study found the percentage of workers with own-name employment-based coverage declined the most among those employed by for-profit private-sector employers and those employed by the federal government. Workers with the lowest earnings were the least likely to have employment-based coverage in their own name and experienced the largest decline in coverage.

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