The typical group preferred provider organization plan deductible is now almost high enough to make the plan compatible with the health savings account program.

The individual group PPO plan deductible is know about $1,000, according to researchers at Mercer, New York, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., New York.

The researchers, who based that finding on a survey of 2,900 U.S. employers with 10 or more employees, note that the minimum deductible for a HSA-compatible health insurance plan is just $1,100.

As recently as 2000, only half of group PPO plans imposed any deductible, the researchers report.

The researchers found that the median PPO individual deductible is just $300 at employers with 500 or more employees.

About 20% of employers with 500 or more employees are offering either an HSA plan or a health reimbursement arrangement plan this year, up from 14% in 2007.

At employers with 10 to 499 employees, health account plan penetration has risen to 9%, from 7%.

The smaller employers are more likely to offer a high-deductible PPO without a health account feature than to offer a health account plan, the Mercer researchers report.

The Mercer researchers found that health coverage costs averaged $7,815 for PPO plans, $7,768 for health maintenance organization plans, and $6,207 for health account plans.

The average cost for all covered employees increased about 6.3% between 2007 and 2008, the researchers report.