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High Deductibles are Here to Stay. Here's Why That's OK.

By Gregory A. Freeman  
   August 24, 2016

Putting a financial burden on enrollees helps them understand the true cost of care, says an executive at a healthcare financial management platform.

There aren't a lot of people defending high deductibles for health insurance, but count Jeff Bakke, chief strategy officer of WEX Health, as one of them.

High deductibles are generally a good thing because they force buyers to be more cost-conscious, says Bakke, whose company provides cloud-based financial management services for healthcare providers.

He says today's high deductibles are the inevitable result of years of overspending on healthcare.

Cut Healthcare Spending or Face the Public Option

"We've needed to go on a healthcare spending diet for a long time, and high-deductible plans are the way to get patients and consumers super engaged in what things cost," Bakke says.

"It's one of the few things where people don't think about the cost. They just act, and sometimes not in their own best interest or the interest of the third party that is paying for those things."

The trend to higher deductibles has been led mostly by employers, not health plans, Bakke notes. "They see it as a way to stop their employees from acting like everything is free," he says.

High deductibles are here to stay, Bakke says, because employers cannot meet the coverage mandates of the Affordable Care Act without significantly cutting back on their employees' healthcare costs.

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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