who have Cadillac plans often have low deductibles and excellent benefits that
cover even the most expensive treatments, but this is not always the case.
Premium costs can be high for reasons other than generous benefits, including
the age, gender and health status of the customer. In an employer-based plan,
premiums are based on the pooled risk of employees and may be higher if many of
the employees are sick, older, predominantly female or live in a region with
expensive health costs. Such people may be paying Cadillac rates for clunker
How many people have high-premium plans?
are still grappling with what premium price is considered
"gold-plated." The legislative outline proposed by Sen. Max Baucus,
D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, sets the threshold at $8,000 in
premiums for an individual and $21,000 for a family. It is estimated that
between 2 and 3 percent of covered workers and families would hit that
year, the total cost of the average family policy offered by employers was
$13,375 according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
news accounts have frequently described Cadillac coverage as plans catering to
Wall Street titans, with annual premiums of $40,000, not everyone with
high-cost coverage is very wealthy or even especially well off.
union workers and employees of businesses with a preponderance of older or
sicker workers may also have premiums in the Cadillac range.
How will the health overhaul proposals affect
people with Cadillac plans?
Baucus proposal would tax insurers for policies with premiums above the
thresholds. The goal of the provision is twofold: to generate revenue to help
pay for covering the uninsured; and to make the most expensive plans - which
some argue encourage overuse of medical care - less attractive. The thresholds
would increase as the nation's overall rate of inflation goes up. But since
health insurance costs increase much faster than inflation, more plans could end
up being taxed as time goes on, if nothing else changes.
the tax is supposed to be imposed on insurers, the effects are likely to
trickle down to consumers. Insurers might tinker with benefits, for example, by
increasing deductibles to reduce premium costs to below the threshold. In
addition, more than half of employees with insurance work for companies that
"self-insure," meaning the firms pay for their workers' health bills
on their own. These employers would be required to pay the excise tax themselves
and could pass the tax on to workers in the form of higher premiums or lower
Employers paying Cadillac premiums because they
have a sicker workforce may see costs go down since all of the proposals would
prohibit insurers from charging higher rates based on health status
Source: Kaiser Health News