Employers look for new ways to cut health insurance costs

After years of seeing  employee deductibles rise, employers are looking for novel ways  to cut the cost of health insurance, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Only 30 percent of employers plan to solely offer high-deductible health plans next year,  a 9 percent dip after increases in each of the last six years. Rather than passing costs on to employees, many employers  now are looking to address the drivers of these costs.

"We're seeing a really keen interest in moving away from high deductibles and coinsurance," said Forrest Burke, CEO of national markets at UnitedHealthcare.

Many companies are beginning to directly negotiate with hospitals and are even opening their own clinics in some cases. States are also taking matters into their own hands. Utah's state health plan  will pay for employees to travel to Mexico to buy certain cost-effective medications. Employees also get $500 for themselves each time they travel there to fill a three-month prescription.

"There are some drugs where the only way we could find a lower-cost provider was to put them on a plane and send them to Tijuana," said R. Chet Loftis, managing director of PEHP Health and Benefits, the Utah agency.

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