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Study Finds More Iowans On High-Deductible Insurance Plans

More Iowans who get their insurance through their employer are on high deductible plans.

More Iowans who get their insurance through their employer are on high deductible plans, accoring to a recent report by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC).

The annual report studies trends in employer-sponsored insurance. It found the number of Iowans on a high-deductible plan jumped significantly from 50 percent in 2017 to 57 percent last year. The national average is 49 percent.

The average deductible for a single person rose by $288 from 2017 to 2018.

The majority of Iowans -- nearly 60 percent -- get their insurance through employers. This is higher than the national average of 51 percent.

Elizabeth Lukanen, the deputy director of SHADAC, said the robust employer-sponsored insurance market in the state is a "double-edged sword." She said employers are likely trying to keep premiums low by increasing deductibles.

"I think to control costs what employers are doing is they’re continuing to offer coverage, but they’re shifting some of those costs to consumers and to their employees, rather," Lukanen said.

She said the problem with high-deductible plans is that Iowans may not understand that they can be financially risky.

"The plan might seem affordable because if you have a higher deductible, you often have a lower premium," Lukanen said, "but if you have a chronic illness or an unexpected health event, and you don’t have any savings, you can really quickly find yourself in debt."

A plan is classified as "high-deductible" if it had a deductible of at least $1,350 for single coverage or $2,700 for family coverage.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter