News Briefs: Reform Costs


Increases in administrative costs tops employers’ concerns about the new health care reform law, according to a recent industry survey. A large majority (93 percent) responded they were at least “somewhat concerned” about the new administrative requirements created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). More than half (56 percent) said they expect the additional reporting and disclosure requirements to cost $1 to $3 per employee, per new PPACA notice.


Small businesses continue to face steep challenges with health care premiums, a release from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) states. In 2010, the average monthly premium for small-business group health plans was $426 for single coverage and $1,117 for family coverage. AHIP’s analysis found that the smaller the company, the higher the premiums, with companies with fewer than 10 employees seeing average monthly premiums of $446 for single coverage.


A new analysis by Fidelity Investments links high 401(k) account balances with the presence of health savings accounts (HSAs). Fidelity found that the average 401(k) balance at the end of 2010 was $71,500. For those with HSAs, however, the average balance was a whopping $170,500. Fidelity found that HSA holders, on average, had larger 401(k) accounts regardless of their salary.


In a recent survey, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlighted a number of once-popular benefits and perks that have shrunk under the pressure of a tough economy. SHRM pointed to traditional pension plans as one of the biggest losers. In 2007, 40 percent of companies offered this benefit, but only 22 percent continue to do so now. Retiree health care coverage also took a hit, with 10 percent fewer companies offering the benefit today compared with 2007. Even dress codes are tightening up, the survey found. Only 55 percent of employers say they encourage workers to dress casually once per week, down from 66 percent in 2007.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released data on employer-sponsored benefits for unmarried domestic partners for the first time. The data show that 33 percent of state and local government workers had access to health care benefits for domestic partners of the same sex, while 29 percent of full-time private-sector workers had access to those benefits. Part-time workers, however, rarely had access to such benefits, with only 9 percent having access to benefits for their same-sex partners, the report said.


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