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The average insurance deductible keeps going up, as does the number of people covered by high-deductible plans. And only about half of those people get help from their employers to save up for potential medical bills, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Expand chart
Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: Higher deductibles don't just require people to pay more out of pocket each year. They also expose those consumers to the complexities of the health care system, including the way prices are set.

  • People with high deductibles are more likely to have to pay the full sticker price of a prescription drug, or for a hospital procedure.

The details:

  • In 2006, just 11.4% of private-sector workers had a high-deductible plan. In 2016, that number was up to 46.5%.
  • Roughly half of those workers also get an employer contribution to a health savings account or health reimbursement arrangement.
  • High-deductible plans are most popular with smaller companies, where employer contributions to an HSA are least popular.
  • At the smallest companies, about two-thirds of workers didn't have the option of a plan without a high deductible, and don't get an employer contribution to an HSA or HRA.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.