Chicago Tribune/Reuters, October 13, 2011
Wells Fargo & Co, one of the largest U.S. employers, plans to cut costs by moving its workers into insurance plans that encourage them to spend less on healthcare. The bank told Reuters that it is rolling out a new insurance approach next year that will give employees accounts to help cover medical expenses. They can either put their own pretax dollars in the accounts, or pay higher insurance premiums and have the company fund the account. If employees opt to put their own money into the accounts, they are on the hook for more of their medical expenses if they get sick. If they stay healthy, they benefit from lower premiums.
These types of accounts are believed to be useful in encouraging consumers to think more about how they are spending healthcare dollars. For most employers, these accounts are one option among many for health insurance, said Alexander Domaszewicz, a principal with human resources consulting firm Mercer. Only a handful of other companies, including General Electric Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co, are going the same route as Wells Fargo and offering only account-based healthcare plans.