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September, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 9
Health insurance trends
in cost control and coverage
Influenced by rapid rising costs of health care, companies often raised their employees' share of the total health care bill and also modified plans to encourage use of less costly health services during the 1979-84 period. At the same time, however, some health plans improved benefit features, such as increasing the maximum lifetime payments under major medical plans.
Although cost containment efforts and benefit improvements were common, approaches to achieve these objectives varied. To analyze these efforts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics traced provisions of 209 employee health plans for the 1979-84 period.
These plans were found in 173 establishments and covered at least 1.8 million workers.1 The plans were mainly those of large companies, with 61 percent covering 1,000 workers or more (6 percent of the plans covered at least 25,000). While clearly not a representative sample of all health insurance plans, they do cover a substantial number of both union and nonunion workers, and offer insights into plan provisions over the 5 years studied. All but 11 of the health plans changed at least one of the features reviewed in this article between 1979 and 1984.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1986 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The number of plans exceeds the number of establishments because some establishments maintained more than one plan, either giving employees a choice of plans or providing distinct plans for different employee groups. The total number of workers covered by the 209 plans is unknown because some of the plans were in multi-establishment companies and covered employees in units other than those surveyed. The employment figure cited in the text reflects plan participation in surveyed establishments only.
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