High deductibles reign in one private HIX


 Anthony Brino

Employees buying health insurance in private exchanges, with defined contributions from their employers, tend to choose plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles, according to data published by the private insurance exchange Liazon.

The Buffalo-based company analyzed the shopping habits of employees from greater New York City, western New York state and New Jersey, and found an average of 60 percent choosing lower-cost health plans.

The other 40 percent split almost evenly between those buying high premium plans with robust coverage and others buying middle-range cost plans, and about 50 percent of the employees choose plans with health savings accounts.

In the New York City metropolitan area, employers contracting with Liazon offer their employees eight health plan designs from a national insurer. The highest premium plan costs $605 a month, with an open network and $1,500 deductible, and the lowest $339 a month, with a closed network and a $5,000 deductible.

Almost 70 percent of the employees chose the lower-cost options, ranging from $339 a month to $369, while 23 percent chose one of the two high cost plans — $500 a month for a closed network $2,000 deductible plan or $605 a month for an open network $1,5000 deductible plan.

In New Jersey, where the employees of organizations contracting with Liazon are offered 10 different health plans from a national insurer, the choices range from $267 a month for closed network $2,500 deductible plan with an HSA to $681 for an open network $1,500 deductible plan.

There 77 percent of employees chose the lower-cost plans, costing up to $385 for a closed network $3,500 deductible plan, while only 8 percent chose to the two highest cost plans.

In western New York, primarily small employers contracting with Liazon offered their employees eight different health plans from a regional insurer, with costs choices ranging from $227 a month for an open network $5,500 deductible plan with an HSA to $585 a month plan with $25 to $40 co-pays.

Bucking the trend, only 34 percent of employees in western New York chose the lower-cost options. Close to 40 percent chose one of the four high cost plans, ranging from $472 for a $1,000 deductible plan to $585 for a plan with $25 to $40 co-pays. Most of these employers, though, did not opt for the digital decision support tools that help employees navigate insurance policy and financing details, unlike the employers in New York City and New Jersey.

Here’s how the choices break down, graphs courtsey of Liazon:

Metropolitan New York City

New Jersey

Western New York 


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