Are U.S. employees at last beginning to realize that insurance premiums may not be the best, or only, way to pick a health plan?
An Aflac study suggests that is exactly what is happening. As enrollment time rolls around, Alfac reports that while most employees continue to evaluate plans based upon premiums, more are starting to dig a bit deeper to see if they should in fact be paying more attention to (and spending less on) the deductible side of the equation.
The 2015 Aflac Open Enrollment survey reveals several unsurprising outcomes: that employees hate having to choose a plan, that they’d rather be doing almost anything else than going through the annual enrollment drill, and that they tend to look first at what the monthly premium will cost them when they make the decision.
But the survey also found that more than half—52 percent—“at least somewhat agree” that they later regretted choosing a high deductible plan. And even more—59 percent—said they “at least somewhat agree” that the HDHP hurt themselves and/or their family financially.
Further, 39 percent said they recognized that their health coverage would provide sufficient security in the event of a serious accident or illness.
The difficulty in making the “right choice” is driven by the desire to stick with the known, the survey showed.
“Workers’ concerns about their inability to meet health care-related financial obligations don’t necessarily translate into how they choose a health insurance plan,” the report stated. “Nearly one-third (30 percent) of workers say monthly premiums are the most important factor when selecting their major medical plan each year, while almost 1 in 4 (23 percent) state that they are most concerned with whether their doctors/health providers participate in the plan.”
So that’s more than half of workers allowing the premium payment and the desire to stick with practitioners they know steer them away from looking more closely at what the HDHP coverage may truly cost them.
“Nearly half (46 percent) of employees selected a major medical/health insurance plan with a high deductible of $1,000 or more last year, up from 34 percent who said the same in 2014,” Aflac said.
While that may not be a strong indicator that folks are beginning to understand the true cost of an HDHP, it must be stated that more employers than ever are offering, and promoting, such plans to keep their own costs down.
“By spending more time researching their options so they better understand what the insurance plan pays for and what they’re liable for, consumers can make better choices and be better prepared for a serious health event,” said Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac. “Employers can help too by providing additional options like a health savings account and voluntary insurance to help employees pay for the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.”