The Prevalence and Cost of Deductibles in Employer Sponsored Insurance:
A View from the 2012 Employer Health Benefit Survey

Kaiser Family Foundation, November 2012

The percent of covered workers enrolled in a plan with a general annual deductible has increased significantly over time.  In 2006, just over half (52%) of covered workers had a deductible for single coverage, compared with almost three-quarters (72%) in 2012.

Overall, the average general annual deductible is $1,097 for covered workers enrolled in a single coverage plan requiring a deductible; an increase of 88% since 2006.

Deductibles are much higher for workers enrolled in HDHP/SO plans (savings options), with 25% of workers enrolled in a plan with a deductible between $1,000 and $1,400, and 25% of workers in a plan with a deductible greater than $2,500.

Although workers at small firms are no more likely to be enrolled in health coverage that includes a deductible, they typically face much higher deductibles than workers at large firms.  The average deductible for covered workers enrolled in single coverage at a small firm is nearly twice as much as the deductible for covered workers at larger firms.

Covered workers enrolled in PPO and POS plans with many higher-wage workers tend to have lower deductibles than their counterparts at firms with fewer higher-wage workers.  Covered workers in HMO, PPO and HDHP/SO plans at firms with some unionized workers have lower general annual deductibles than workers at firms without unions.


In addition to contributing more towards premiums, covered workers are increasingly faced with higher cost sharing.  A larger proportion of workers are required to meet a deductible prior to utilizing services and these deductibles are increasing in size.  It has become commonplace for covered workers to be enrolled in a plan with a deductible of $1,000 or more.  While many working families have sufficient savings and coverage in case of a medical emergency, the growth in workers’ contributions and cost sharing may increasingly become a financial strain on some households.

Ever higher deductibles have now become the standard for employer-sponsored plans. The new state exchange plans to be offered to individuals and small businesses will have to have higher deductibles as well because of their comparatively low actuarial values.

The conclusion in this report states that “the growth in workers’ contributions and cost sharing may increasingly become a financial strain on some households.” This is an overly conservative statement since innumerable studies have shown that high deductibles already do cause both financial hardship and impairment of access to appropriate health care.

A single payer system controls costs without the necessity of imposing financial barriers such as high deductibles. Let’s change to policies that take care of patients first rather than policies that shift costs from employer or government budgets to individual patients, especially since ultimately we’re all funding those budgets anyway, whether as consumers or taxpayers.