Some say that employers will not compromise their self-insured plans since they would be used to attract better qualified employees, but we are already seeing a shift of risk from employers to employees through greater cost sharing and other plan innovations. As mentioned in a message earlier this week, there has been an increase in the sale of deceptive “self-insured packages” which are merely stop-loss plans that look like health insurance, but that are exempt from the regulatory oversight of private health plans. As health care costs continue to rise, employers surely will continue to leverage lax self-insured rules to accrue to their own benefit, at a cost to their employees.
For those employers who end up facing higher costs in their self-insured plans resulting from deterioration in the average health status of their employee pools, they have the out of transferring their employees to the new state insurance exchanges. Of course, subjecting the exchanges to adverse selection (enrolling more costly patients) will drive up premiums for everyone else enrolled in the exchange plans.