NU Online News Service, May 3, 1:16 p.m. – The California HealthCare Foundation, Oakland, Calif., says higher health coverage prices are starting to have a noticeable effect on the health benefits packages offered by California’s small employers.

Employers are increasing co-payments and deductibles, and they are also adding more “multi-tier” provider programs. The multi-tier programs offer richer benefits to plan members who see what the carriers hope will be lower cost doctors and hospitals.

Contracts are often written in such a way that purchasers have no idea how much the carriers will really end up paying, the California foundation says.

Meanwhile, in the individual market, carriers are imposing maternity co-payments of as much as $1,000; cutting the amounts paid for well-baby care; and raising annual out-of-pocket maximums for in-network providers to as much as $4,000 for a single person, the California foundation says.