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Employees cautioned to consider their health plan options carefully

Tags: benefits | consumers | employees | health plan

While Congress works to push forward healthcare reform legislation, the cost of healthcare continues to soar. Faced with annual inflation in the double digits, employers are making difficult decisions about how to shoulder the growing expense of healthcare benefits.

Recent articles by the WSJ & MSNBC highlight the fact that many employers are shifting healthcare costs to employees. The average employee premium has more than doubled in the last decade, and is projected to rise 10% from 2009 to 2010 to total over $4,000 per person in premiums and out-of-pocket charges combined.

Going into open-enrollment season, employees are cautioned to read the fine print, to carefully compare their health plan options, projecting overall costs –premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pockets maximums – before making a decision. Many employees can get premium discounts if they undergo a health risk assessment, or participate in workplace wellness initiatives.

Employees are warned against paying to be over-insured, and for those employees looking to save money who are not expecting to need a lot of care, high-deductible health plans (sometimes with health savings accounts) are recommended.

The bottom line: employees need to be aware of their health plan options, and informed about the comparative benefits and risks, in order to find the most appropriate, and cost effective, plan for themselves and their families.

In coming posts we’ll discuss some of the many proactive measures that employers are taking to mitigate their rising healthcare costs by empowering their employees to improve their health and become savvier healthcare consumers. We’ll also discuss what employees should ask of their employer’s wellness and personal health platform.

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