LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 7, 2016) The percentage of Kentucky workers enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans increased by nearly six times from 2006 to 2014, according to a report released by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky today. During the same time period, the amount Kentucky workers had to pay out-of-pocket before their insurance kicked in more than doubled, from $1,178 in 2006 to $2,738 in 2014 for an average family.
Most of the state’s nearly 94,000 kynect enrollees also have chosen plans with high deductibles, the report said, reflecting the growth of these plans in the Commonwealth and nationwide. The most popular “Silver” plans offered in Kentucky through kynect, Kentucky’s state marketplace for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, had higher deductibles but also lower premiums and participants qualified for a premium tax credit.
“Employers and consumers often choose high-deductible health plans in return for lower monthly premiums,” said Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Research shows that these plans lead to decreased health-care spending as consumers who have to pay up front for care become more conscious of costs. But consumers on high-deductible plans also tend to use fewer preventive services, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings, that save money – and lives – in the long run. And these plans can make it more difficult for Kentuckians with low incomes or chronic conditions to pay their medical bills, leading them to delay or skip essential health care.”
More than 2.4 million Kentuckians obtain health insurance through their employers, according to the report. As of 2014, 38.6 percent of them were enrolled in plans considered “high deductible” by IRS definitions ($1,250 for single and $2,500 for family coverage in 2014), compared to 6.6 percent in 2006. Nationwide, enrollment in high-deductible plans rose from 8.6 percent in 2006 to 35.2 percent in 2014.
The report also states that 60 percent of 2016 enrollees in kynect selected the higher-deductible, lower-premium Silver-level plan (with a median deductible of $3,500 for an individual and $7,000 for a family, and median monthly payments, or premiums, of $255 and $585, respectively), and 26 percent selected the highest-deductible, lowest-premium Bronze-level plan ($6,000/single deductible, $206 premium; $12,000/family deductible, $474 premium). Just 11 percent selected the Gold-level plan ($1,000/single deductible, $302 premium; $2,000 family deductible; $698 premium).
While the percentage of U.S. employees on health insurance plans with deductibles at any level grew from 66.4 percent in 2006 to 83.9 percent in 2014, the percentage of such plans in Kentucky was much higher than in the country as a whole in 2006, but has remained relatively stable since then (90 percent in 2006, 90.3 percent in 2014).
The report was created by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota, and is part of a 34-month study funded by the Foundation regarding the impacts of the ACA in Kentucky. A copy of the complete report is available here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested over $26 million in health policy research, advocacy and pilot project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by informing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook, or visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth