Tuesday, December 30, 2008

High deductibles about to be reset.

Minnesota's Star Tribune (12/30, Yee) reports that patients with high-deductible health plans "are more likely to hold off getting care" early in the year "because they are paying out of pocket." But, "later in the year, some have paid enough to reach their deductible and
insurance kicks in." Insurance will then cover "most medical services -- whether at 80 percent, 90 percent or completely -- until the deductible resets in the new plan year, Jan. 1 for most of them." During this time, patients will "cram in colonoscopies, hysterectomies, hernia surgeries
and knee replacements." And, "at a time when the weak economy is hurting the industry, medical groups say they are grateful for the bump in business." High-deductible health plans "with health savings accounts were introduced in 2004" to help "slow the growth of medical spending."
Meanwhile, "deductibles for traditional plans -- known as preferred provider organizations -- also have jumped, with a $1,000 deductible now the national norm, according to benefits consultant firm Mercer."

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