With workers harder to find and Obamacare’s tax on generous coverage postponed, employers are hitting pause on a feature of job-based medical insurance much hated by employees: the high-deductible health plan.


Companies have slowed enrollment in such coverage and, in some cases, reinstated more traditional plans as a strong job market gives workers bargaining power over pay and benefits, according to research from three organizations.


This year, 39 percent of large, corporate employers surveyed by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) offer high-deductible plans, also called “consumer-directed” coverage, as workers’ only choice. For next year, that figure is set to drop to 30 percent.






“That was a surprise, that we saw that big of a retraction,” said Brian Marcotte, the group’s CEO. “We had a lot of companies add choice back in.”


Few if any employers will return to the much more generous coverage of a decade or more ago, benefits...


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