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Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Jan-Feb;29(1):156-64. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0060. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Group insurance: a better deal for most people than individual plans.

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Watson-Wyatt Worldwide, Arlington, Virginia, USA.


This paper compares health plans currently available on the individual market with employer-sponsored plans. Points of comparison include the scope of benefits, cost-sharing provisions, premiums, expected out-of-pocket costs, and actuarial value. We draw from the 2007 KFF/HRET Health Benefits Survey, our own survey of individual-market plans, the MarketScan medical claims database, and a computer simulation of medical claims. We find that in 2007, employment-based plans covered 80 percent of all charges paid by the plan and the member, while individual plans covered 64 percent. For most people, premiums and out-of-pocket costs were more affordable in tax-advantaged employer plans than in individual-market plans. Proposed health reforms would fundamentally alter the plan offerings available to Americans, particularly those offered in the individual market.

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