The trend toward high-deductible health plans continues during this season’s open enrollment period, with several large employers abandoning their traditional PPO and HMO offerings to jump on the HDHP bandwagon.

GE is one of them. Last year, the company transitioned their 85,000 salaried employees to HDHP programs. This year, it will transition another 40,000 union and hourly employees.

The company offers employees three plan choices, with deductibles ranging from $800 to $4,000, depending on the plan and the number of family members insured.

For two of the options, the company contributes between $600 and $1,200 to a tax-preferred account that the employee can use to pay for medical expenses. The third plan is linked to a tax-qualified health savings account. Employees must fund that account on their own. But unlike the other accounts, the money belongs to the employees even if they leave the company.

It’s hoped that this transition will encourage employees to be more conscientious about wellness, as well as about when and how they seek care.

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