Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer minimal essential health coverage to employees or be subject to a penalty. More than three-fourths of employers plan to continue to offer coverage for employees once this new requirement takes effect. However, a majority of respondents are also concerned about their ability to offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees.
The 2012 Health Care Reform Survey was conducted from January 6 to February 24 by Milwaukee-based Zywave, a software provider for the insurance and financial service industries. More than 7,800 employers nationwide participated in the survey.
Respondents are from 14 business sectors, with heaviest representation from services (18%), manufacturing (15%), nonprofit (11%), health care (10%) and construction (9%). Respondents spanned organization size: 43% with less than 50 employees, 17% with 50–99 employees, 27% with 100–499 employees and 14% with more than 500 employees.
Among those surveyed, 51% will definitely continue to offer health benefit coverage, 29 % will likely continue coverage, 3% will likely discontinue coverage and 1% will definitely discontinue or have already discontinued coverage. Meanwhile 19% are unsure what they will do when the requirement goes into effect in 2014.
“These findings are consistent with other recent surveys on the topic,” says Zywave attorney Erica Storm. “Given the uncertainty surrounding health care reform, employers do not appear eager to make big changes to their benefit offerings. Plus, employers remain concerned about competing for talent and seem nervous that dropping coverage could affect recruiting and retention efforts, despite other health care options provided for in the law.”
Other survey results include:
• 57% of employers responding are concerned about their ability to offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees.
• More than three-quarters of respondents have already seen an increase in their organizations health benefit costs or expect to see an increase as a result of PPACA provisions. Sixty-three percent of employers plan to pass these increases on to employees.
• PPACA requires group health plans that provide dependent coverage of children to make that coverage available to children up to age 26. In response to this requirement, 10% of employers surveyed increased the employee share of premiums or benefit costs for all coverage, 9% increased the employee proportion of dependent coverage cost and 2% eliminated dependent coverage.
• PPACA provisions that employers are most concerned about implementing and administering include: new reporting, disclosure and notification requirements (57%), the requirement to automatically enroll new employees in a health plan (40%) and additional W-2 reporting requirements (49%).
By Marli D. Riggs