paying for insurance coverage infographic

Two big employers have announced that they will now change the way they help employees with health insurance: instead of finding and financing that insurance, they will give employees a fixed sum of money and let them shop for their own insurance, writes Anna Wilde Mathews in The Wall Street Journal.

The two employers — Sears and Darden Restaurants, parent of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants — would not say how much money they are giving their employees. People with families will receive more than single people, the story says.  Both companies described the move as a way to ” put more control over health benefits in the hands of employees.”

She writes: “On average, U.S. employers and workers are estimated to spend $15,475 in annual premiums for health insurance this year for a worker with family coverage, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. The average employee pays about 28% of that amount and the employer picks up the balance.”

It’s a sign of the times: as employers find themselves paying more, they look for ways to put more control (read: cost) into the hands of employees. It’s also a logical continuation of the ongoing debate about the political wisdom of employer-supplied health care. And it’s representative of yet another change in the marketplace: people need to know more about the costs of health care, be it insurance premiums, copays, or charges for medical treatment.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...