The Norman Transcript

Headlines

November 18, 2012

More American workers to pick their insurance

NORMAN — For some American workers, picking the right health insurance is becoming more like hunting for the perfect business suit: It takes some shopping around to find a good fit and avoid sticker shock.

In a major shift in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, companies such as Sears Holdings Corp. and Darden Restaurants Inc. are giving employees a fixed amount of money and allowing them to choose their own coverage based on their individual needs.

The approach, called defined contribution health insurance, contrasts to the decades-old practice by most U.S. employers of offering workers a one-size-fits-all plan with benefits they may not want. It also means American workers who’ve grown accustomed to having their benefits chosen for them could wind up with bigger bills and inadequate coverage if they don’t choose wisely.

“It’s a big, big change in the nature of what it means to have health insurance,” says David Cutler, a Harvard University economist.

Until now, defined contribution health insurance plans have been largely limited to small businesses and retirees. But more employers are considering them as a way to control their rising health care costs.

After all, the average annual premium — or cost for insurance coverage — for an employer-sponsored family health plan has almost doubled in the past decade to nearly $16,000, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. And companies generally foot at least 70 percent of that bill.

But now the plans are catching on. Benefits consultant Mercer found that 45 percent of the 2,809 employers it surveyed earlier this year are either using or are considering a defined contribution approach.

As a result, insurers and benefits companies are rolling out online exchanges where workers can buy insurance coverage roughly similar to how they buy plane tickets on travel websites. The private sites are similar to the public online exchanges that will enable people to buy insurance starting late next year as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Bad year won’t dampen peachy tradition

    PORTER — A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.” Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Union Market opens this fall on campus

    Shelves are being stocked as employees buzz around like busy bees and activities are in the last stages of prep as the University of Oklahoma anticipates the opening of its new eatery Union Market, located in the Oklahoma Memorial Union in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • OU football recruit under investigation in assault case

    An attorney representing Joe Mixon confirmed Friday evening that the highly-recruited Oklahoma running back is being investigated by Norman Police in connection with an incident in which a woman suffered multiple facial fractures early ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Campus Cornerassault

    Norman Police responded to an alleged aggravated assault at the Campus Corner Pickelmans Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning....

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014