What You Can Expect in Your 2008 Health Insurance Package

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

* Increases of 6 to 7 percent in premiums -- and more in small firms.

* More financing options, including higher upfront premiums for fuller coverage and lower premiums with the risk of higher out-of-pocket costs.

* Financial incentives to stay well, including reduced premiums or extra cash in a health savings account for those who, for example, complete a personal health risk assessment or join a smoking cessation program.

* More consumer-driven health plans, requiring workers to take on more cost-sharing, often with tax-advantaged savings accounts.

* Change in prescription drug co-pays, including more tiers of pricing to encourage use of generics and dropping co-pays for maintenance drugs.

* More decision-support tools, including online medical cost estimators to calculate possible costs of care and slick "health benefit overviews" on DVD. Some of the largest plans will offer digitized personal health records for managing costs.

* Health-care competitions: Taking the lead from reality TV, employers are sponsoring wellness programs in which workers join teams to get fit or lose weight. (Look for the company brass to participate, too!)

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