KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Survey: More Workers Gaining Coverage Through Employers’ Self-Insured Plans

Based on 2011 data, the share of workers in self-insured company health plans increased for the fourth straight year, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: More Workers Covered By Bosses' Self-Insured Plans
The number of U.S. workers covered by self-insured health plans—in which their employer assumes the financial risk for health costs rather than paying insurance companies to do that—has grown steadily in recent years. But such plans are still primarily used by large companies, not small employers, a new study finds (Rao, 11/28).

Modern Healthcare: Survey Finds More Workers In Self-Insured Company Health Plans
The share of workers in self-insured company health plans increased for the fourth straight year in 2011 to 58.5% of all private-sector employees, according to an employment research group. The Employee Benefit Research Institute analyzed data collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and found a 1 percentage point increase last year in the share of private-sector employees in health plans operated by their employers (PDF), instead of commercially available plans. Ten years earlier, 48.8% of private-sector employees were in such plans. Much of the increase has been driven by larger firms. For instance, the share of workers in firms with at least 1,000 employees enrolled in self-insured plans rose from 55.4% in 1998 to 86.3% in 2011 (Daly, 11/28).

CQ HealthBeat: Self-Insurance On The Rise And Health Care Law May Spur The Trend
A new analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute says self-insurance is a huge trend in employer-sponsored coverage that could become more pronounced in the wake of the health care law. "In 2011, 58.5 percent of workers with health coverage were in self-insured plans, up from 40.9 percent in 1998," an EBRI summary of the study says. For the most part, employers with 1,000 or more workers have driven the trend. Only 12 percent of firms with fewer than 50 employees were self-insured in most of the years examined in the study (Reichard, 11/28).

In related news -

Modern Healthcare: AMA Report Sees Monopolies In Insurance Markets
The American Medical Association's annual report on the health insurance marketplace suggests that 70% of metropolitan markets lack competition among insurers, prompting a quick critical response from a payers trade group. The Chicago-based AMA, in its "Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets" 2012 report, states, "It appears that consolidation has resulted in the possession and exercise of health insurer monopoly power." This is the first year that the study analyzed insurer competition among markets. The research covered 385 metro areas across the country and compiled three lists that ranked the states with the least competitive HMO (PDF), PPO (PDF) and commercial health insurance markets (Selvam, 11/28).

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