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Developments Related To Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Armen Hareyan's picture

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Summaries of several recent developments related to employer-sponsored health insurance appear below.

  • High-deductible health plans: A "growing number of small businesses" have begun to offer high-deductible health plans to employees, but many are not "buying the idea" of "consumerism in health care," the Chicago Tribune reports (Meyer, Chicago Tribune, 7/30).

  • Obesity: Some employers have begun to charge overweight employees biweekly fees until they lose weight or offer "lucrative incentives" to those who lose weight as part of an effort to reduce health care costs, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, critics maintain that such practices are "turning the health care system into a police state and, just as worrisome, are working off of a false assumption that it's easy for people who are obese and have other health issues to change their situations," according to the Times (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 7/29).

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  • Prescription drug copayments: Employers that increase prescription drug copays for employees reduce their expenditures for medications, but 35% of the savings that result is offset by increased expenditures in other areas of health care, such as physician or emergency department visits, according to a study published this month in Forum for Health Economics and Policy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. For the study, William Vogt, associate professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and colleagues examined a national database that involved nine employers with 500,000 employees to determine their health care expenditures before and after they increased prescription drug copays.

According to the study, increased prescription drug copays "may not be as effective a mechanism for controlling spending as previously thought" (Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.