Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the most famous health insurance plan providers. They offer a variety of options to consumers, and part of their opposition to healthcare reform is based on its potential to limit their ability to sell certain types of plans. So why are they only allowing their Florida employees to sign up for a high-deductible health insurance plan in 2010? They’re part of a growing trend of employers passing a larger percentage of healthcare costs to the consumer. These plans are tied to a tax-free Health Savings Account, to which the company will contribute a certain sum (individual employees can add more money to the HSA).
On the positive side, HSAs force people to give more thought to their spending; they could cut unnecessary costs, making healthcare reform more affordable. Unfortunately, many consumers aren’t knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions–they could forgo needed treatment to save money, eventually costing them more in both financial and wellness terms. BCBS is trying hybrid HSA health insurance plans, in which they offer either 10% or 20% co-insurance to lower the cost of annual physicals and other preventative care. In addition, the health insurance company covers basic screenings (e.g. colonoscopies, mammograms) that may otherwise be avoided.
HSAs can be very useful to younger people in good health; they often result in lower premiums, since you only pay for the care you need. However, they’re not for everybody. A PPO or an HMO could be a better option for you. While some employers are no longer allowing you to choose, there are still options on the open market. You should always talk to an insurance agent to see what’s best for you.