Commercial painting company Steve Reiff Inc. offers single coverage with a deductible of $5,950. The South Whitley, Indiana, company also helps cover about half the cost of that deductible with contributions to an employee health reimbursement arrangement account, Controller Eric Trump said.
The business switched to a high-deductible plan several years ago to help restrain premium growth. That move helped, but Trump worries about leaving the roughly 30 people on their coverage with the high deductible.
"It's really hard to like a lot of health insurance options right now," he said. "It's still a big expense for people that are making $10 to $15 an hour."
Paducah, Kentucky, resident Emmett Krall says the annual deductible of $3,500 on his employer-sponsored health insurance makes him think about cost more than he wants to, especially since his 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year.
Krall said he has to come up with about $200 a month to cover his son's insulin, needles and pump. The 46-year-old carpet manufacturer sales representative said he has cut down on going out to eat, and he's watching where he spends his money.
"It causes an anxiety and a stress on my part, because I do get stressed about it, and I don't want him to know about it," he said.
College professor Bill Cantor said he's seen his premium fall to only $95 a month for family coverage from around $300 since he switched to a high-deductible health plan a few years ago. He uses a health savings account to set aside money for expenses, and he likes how the plan has made him more aware of costs.
The 53-year-old said he caught a $200 mistake on a medical bill that he might have missed if insurance had just covered the claim.
"I think it would hold down insurance rates more if people thought about their spending," said Cantor, who teaches information science and technology at Penn State's York, Pennsylvania, campus.
Kaiser's survey focused on benefits for this year and doesn't predict what will happen in 2016, something many workers will learn about in a couple of months when their employers detail coverage plans for the new year.
Kaiser Vice President Gary Claxton said he doesn't expect the trend toward higher deductibles to ease much in 2016. He noted that employers tend to make their coverage more generous as the economy improves. But companies still will be intent on controlling costs to prepare for an overhaul-imposed tax on expensive benefit plans that starts in 2018.