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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

For people with employer-provided health insurance, 2019 was a year of relatively cheap plans. But in 2020, they may pay more.

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Thirty percent of the workers in the private sector have health insurance, according to the Census Bureau. That’s a big percentage, but in many of the health plans out there, the worker pays a disproportionate share of their own medical bills.

If you just got your insurance, odds are you’ll pay more for the services you use. Right now, that’s the case even for workers in the most generous plans. That’s because of the added cost to businesses from the Affordable Care Act.

Last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin floated a proposal to reduce that cost, potentially by issuing something called an excise tax on so-called “bogus” health plans.

Some insurance experts say the idea sounds too complicated to matter much. But a new analysis from the health care consulting firm Avalere Health, which looked at people in 30 plans in 38 states, offers data that might make people reconsider. The analysis estimated that those people would pay an average of 23 percent more in 2020 than they did in 2019 — but that was after the proposed change in the excise tax.

When the analysis was released, a spokeswoman for Mr. Mnuchin downplayed the analysis as an “erroneous report.”

In general, people with employer-provided health insurance — including people who buy their own insurance or who get their own coverage through Medicare — will see a decline in out-of-pocket expenses in 2020 compared with 2019. But people with health coverage obtained through exchanges also will face higher out-of-pocket costs in 2020 compared with 2019.

Americans with employer-sponsored insurance are more likely to be covered by Medicare or Medicaid. As Mr. Mnuchin’s proposal to reduce the costs of employer-provided insurance faces public debate, the data compiled by Avalere shows that many of them may not have much to worry about.

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