With open enrollment for benefits in full swing, U.S. workers are seeing more high-deductible health plans from cost-conscious employers.
A new report finds that 36% of large employers offered consumer-directed, high-deductible health plans in 2012, up from 14% five years ago. Enrollment in those plans has risen to 16% of all covered employees, compared with 5% in 2007, according to benefits consultant Mercer.
Employers are pushing these plans in part because they are about 20% cheaper than the cost of a conventional PPO -- or preferred-provider organization -- plan, Mercer said. The cost of a high-deductible medical plan with a health savings account is $7,833 annually per employee compared with $10,007 for a PPO plan.
"If we're not already at the tipping point for consumer-directed health plans -- and we may well be -- at this rate of growth it's coming soon," said Laura Baker, a senior health and benefits consultant for Mercer in Los Angeles.