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As more customers choose high-deductible plans, few see overall savings from low premiums, survey finds

Sixty-two percent in the survey said their healthcare costs either increased or stayed the same when compared to their previous plan.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

A new survey from Insurance.com has found that 35 percent of respondents, the most of any category, said low premiums were their prime consideration when choosing a health insurance plan. But when it comes to these to high-deductible health plans, the cost-saving results can be mixed.

The idea behind HDHPs is to contain healthcare costs by transferring more of the costs for services to the consumer, while offsetting that with lower premiums. The cost structure is better when paired with greater consumer education and a Health Savings Account, in which employers contribute to help the person in question pay for that deductible. It's a popular option, coming in second only to PPOs.

Yet most people surveyed said HDHPs weren't saving them money. Sixty-two percent in the survey said their healthcare costs either increased or stayed the same when compared to their previous plan, while only 30 percent said their costs had decreased.

[Also: Lawmakers push high-deductible plans to cover chronic care up front]

Most respondents said their deductibles are between $1,501 and $2,000, while 20 percent said it's more than $2,000. Only 8 percent said it's less than $1,500.

The news for health insurers and employers isn't all negative. The majority of those surveyed said they're getting more information from their health insurer (63 percent) and doctors (61 percent) to make them better healthcare consumers, and 60 percent said they shop around for health services, Those are all positive goals of HDHPS. And the vast majority said they're contributing to an HSA, with their employers chipping in to help pay for care.

People are putting off care, however. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they delayed care because they didn't want to pay the high deductible. And despite the greater education coming from health insurers and doctors, most don't feel like they're improving as healthcare consumers.

[Also: Quarter of adults struggling to cover healthcare costs, high deductibles]

"The results are definitely mixed for HDHPs," said Les Masterson, managing editor of Insurance.com, in a statement. "People feel there is more information out there to help them become better healthcare consumers, but they still don't feel it's helping. They are shopping around more for their healthcare, which should make health plans and employers happy, but they should also be worried that so many people appear to be putting off care because they don't want to pay the high deductible."

Twitter: @JELagasse

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