Will the High Deductible Health Plan Task Force Lead to Real Relief to CT Families?

September 11, 2019

By Rosana G. Ferraro |

While legislation to rein in high deductible health plans did not pass this legislative session, the legislature did create a High Deductible Health Plan Task Force.  The Task Force will study the issues surrounding high deductible health plans and come up with recommendations for the state legislature’s upcoming 2020 session.  They will consider a wide variety of topics, including the financial impact these health plans have on members and their families.

What’s a high deductible health plan (HDHP)?

A high deductible health plan has higher deductibles than “traditional” health insurance plans.  The trade off is that you pay lower monthly premiums in exchange for having a higher deductible.  A deductible is what you have to pay before your insurance begins to cover your eligible health care expenses.

For 2020, high deductible health plans have a minimum deductible of $1,400 for an individual, and $2,800 for a family – though many people have much higher deductibles than that.  The maximum you would pay out-of-pocket (including your deductible, co-pays and co-insurance) in one of these plans is $6,900 for an individual and $13,800 for a family.

High deductible health plans pose financial and health struggles for some

We know, from stories we’ve heard (from people like Sarah and Jessica), that high deductible health plans can be a major financial challenge for people who have them.  Because people have to pay out-of-pocket for health care until they reach their deductible, they could be on the hook for thousands of dollars before they see even a penny of benefit for having health insurance.

High deductible health plans are becoming more common.  In 2013, roughly 40% of private sector workers in Connecticut had HDHPs – in 2018, 55% of private sector workers in the state were enrolled in a HDHP.

As HDHPs grow in prevalence, so, too, do the deductibles grow.  In 2006, the average deductible for a single person in an employer plan was $379 – in 2018, the average deductible was $1,350 (according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey).  On the state health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, some plans have deductibles as high as $6,000 for a single person.

Because of high deductibles, people often avoid or delay care they need, which can lead to poor health outcomes and, potentially, complications down the road.

In many ways, high deductible health plans are not really health insurance and leave people feeling under-insured, meaning that despite having insurance, people don’t feel protected.

We will be watching this Task Force closely, and hope that some of their recommendations bring real relief for Connecticut families.

For a deeper dive into the Task Force, check out this article: As high-deductible health plans grow in popularity, some state officials want to rein them in (Hartford Business Journal).