HSA Headlines - 10/12/18 - Is poor HDHP growth hurting HSAs?

If there's a common theme that runs through most of our HSA Headlines roundups, the ever-rising cost of health coverage is a story that always receives its fair share of press.

With healthcare expected to be one of the biggest issues in the 2018 midterm elections and employers already grappling with a decade of healthcare spending growth, open enrollment is an interesting time to take a closer look at industry trends and what's really on the minds of workers as they elect benefits.

Even People Insured by their Employer are Worried About Rising Healthcare Costs - Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight

If you have to shop for your health insurance through an Affordable Care Act state exchange, healthcare pricing is obviously important to your financial bottom line. But for the majority of Americans who get their healthcare coverage through an employer, price changes are usually too small to notice.

But if you take a long-term view over the past decade or more, the employee share of healthcare costs has risen. According to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Employer Health Benefits survey, in 2000, the average family with an employer-provided plan paid 25% of the total cost of an annual insurance premium.

By 2018, it was 28% - not a massive jump, but still a change worth mentioning.

The overarching conversation around healthcare is sparking an attitude change within this population. In its August poll, KFF asked adults how worried they were about being able to afford an unexpected medical bill. Nearly one-third of people with insurance from an employer said they were "very worried;" 38% of all insured adults agreed.

While the bad news is that healthcare prices are still rising, American families are doing more to prepare for unexpected medical expenses.

High-Deductible Plans Fall from Grace in Employer-Based Coverage - Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News

Over the past several years, it appeared that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) may be the "next big thing." Employees paid more for their direct care, but paid lower monthly premiums and had the ability to open up HSAs for long-term savings and security.

In many cases, employers made the HDHP their sole coverage option to help cut costs. But a new study by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) has revealed that it might not stay this way much longer.

In a recent survey of large corporate employers, 39% only offered HDHP coverage. For 2019, it's expected to drop to 30%. For many employers, affordability of healthcare coverage for lower-income employees was a concern, since workers want a degree of choice when electing benefits. Plus, many employees chose to forgo medical care to avoid paying for high deductibles.

The days of HDHPs as the "most popular" health plan appear to be over, so it will be worth watching to see how this will affect HSA enrollment numbers down the line.

HSA Headlines is a weekly roundup of the latest, most relevant news and conversations about your health savings. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the HSA Learning Center. And for more about your physical and financial well-being, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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