A couple of findings stood out from our latest National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans: Most large employers chose not to raise PPO deductibles this year (the average individual deductible rose by just $10, to $992), and some that had offered a high-deductible HSA-eligible plan as their only medical plan reversed course and added other choices. Further, 42% of large employers indicated that addressing healthcare affordability for low-income employees was going to be a priority over the next five years.
That’s why we were so interested to learn this week that the new Haven health plan rolled out by JP Morgan to about 30,000 employees in Ohio and Arizona has no deductible requirement at all -- a notable difference from their existing health plan and from nearly all other health plans in the US. Of course, we’d jump on any new scrap of information about how the high-profile joint venture of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan is progressing, but this particular detail dovetailed nicely with our sense that employers are starting to move in response to concerns about healthcare affordability.
According to this article in Geekwire, the plan requires a range of fixed copays for office and specialist visits and hospitalizations. Employees also have outcomes-based financial incentives to improve or maintain their health, such as by keeping blood pressure below a certain target. A spokesman said the offering is a “simplified medical plan … [that] is designed to provide clear costs so employees and their families know exactly what they’ll pay before receiving health care.” Not requiring a deductible does take some of the guesswork out of managing health spending. It also removes a financial barrier to primary care. We know that Haven CEO Atul Gawande is a big fan of primary care.
So, while one employer does not a trend make, the decision by this very prominent employer health plan sponsor to forgo a deductible is intriguing. Taken in the context of our survey results, it may be pointing to a new era of less – or more thoughtful – employee cost sharing. Stay tuned for the next development…I know we will be.