Deductibles of $1,000 became standard in 2008

December 4, 2008
Tracey Walker
Tracey Walker

She is senior editor of Managed Healthcare Executive.

According to a Mercer survey of employers, $1,000 deductibles became the norm in 2008. Deductibles are rising due to cost-sharing built into plan design, as well as the growth in consumer-driven, high-deductible health plans.

Health insurance deductibles of $1,000 became the norm in 2008, according to a Mercer survey of employers.

While surveys on this topic from various organizations produce noticeably different figures, the common theme for all is that deductibles continue to rise because of two related factors: the ongoing increase of consumer cost sharing built into plan design, and the growth in consumer-driven, high-deductible health plans that has paved the way for acceptance of higher deductibles in traditional PPO plans as well, according to Clive Riddle, president and founder of Modesto, Calif.-based MCOL, a provider of business-to-business health management and managed care resources.

Mercer reports that after holding steady at $500 for seven straight years, the median deductible for individuals rose to $1,000 in 2008.

“Mercer’s survey provides a meaningful figure often absent in publicly released results on plan design features-the median as opposed to just the mean,” Riddle says. “This can be more insightful, as opposed to the average compiled from a very wide range.”It is also important to note that deductible amounts are quite different for small versus large employers, Riddle believes. “While the headlines from Mercer’s findings note the $1,000 median deductible overall, Mercer found the median deductible for large employers is $300,” he says. “Other surveys have borne this out, as well.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey yielded lower deductible amounts, but with the same separation by size: a mean of $560 overall, but $917 for small employers and $413 for large employers.

“The trend for first dollar coverage of wellness and certain value-based benefits should be noted as well,” Riddle says. “While deductibles are rising fast, more employers are adopting plans designs with first dollar coverage for specific wellness and ‘value-based’ items.”