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Survey: Florida Employers Twice As Likely To Offer High Deductible Health Plans

Doctor sits with patient
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

According to a new survey, Florida employers are almost twice as likely to offer high deductible health plans – than the national average.

Deductibles are the amount consumers for health care services before their insurance plan kicks in.

Mercer - a human resources consulting firm - found that 76 percent of employers in Florida that responded to the survey offer these plans, compared to the national average of 38 percent.

Matthew Snook, a partner at Mercer, said Florida is driven by industries like tourism, hospitality, and agriculture - industries that typically pay lower wages, have higher turnovers, and have fewer unions.

"That's a big driver of it and thus a big driver of the prevalence of the high-deductible health player world here in Florida," Snook said.

Snook says Florida also has fewer Fortune 500 companies than some states -- which affects the types of benefits offered to employees.

On the flipside, while more employers than ever nationally are offering these high-deductible health plans, fewer large employers in southern states are offering them as the only option.

As the cost of health care rises across the board, more employers nationally are passing off more of the costs of health care to employees through high deductibles and premiums, and health savings accounts.

The high deductibles, which can be $5,000 or more, often mean people can’t afford to use their health insurance.

But Snook says a diversifying workforce is encouraging employers to offer more health insurance choices, including Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans and Preferred Provider Organization plans (PPO).

“We now have five different generations in the workforce from the traditionalist through baby boomers, Gen X, the millennials and now Gen Z entering the workforce,” Snook said.

“Thus the needs of health plan participants have changed drastically. Because of that, I think employers are embracing choice a little bit more so the one size fits all, ‘we’ll just offer a high-deductible health plan’ - I think people stepping back from that.”

Mercer's survey is based on voluntary responses from 2,600 employers, 124 from Florida, for the most recent Mercer's 2019 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.

Snook says the makeup of the data changes from year-to-year depending on how many employers respond to the survey and what industries they represent. That makes state-by-state and year-by-year comparisons difficult.

A few more stats from Florida:

  • Total health benefit cost for active employees increased 4.8% in 2019, to an average of $12,690 per employee. 
  • Asked about their expected cost for 2020, respondents estimated that if they made no changes to their current plan, cost would rise by 5.4%. However, they expect to hold their cost increase to 3.9% by making changes to plan design and/or plan vendors.
  • 76% of respondents offered a high-deductible consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) with an account feature (an HSA or HRA) in 2019. 
  • 49% of all employees covered in respondents’ health plans are enrolled in PPO plans, 20% in HMOs, and 32% in high-deductible health plans. The median PPO deductible is $1,000.
  • The average employee contribution amount for employee-only coverage is $153 monthly for a PPO plan, $112 monthly for an HMO and $79 monthly for an HSA-eligible CDHP.

Copyright 2019 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.
Daylina Miller
Daylina Miller, multimedia reporter for Health News Florida, was hired to help further expand health coverage statewide.