Health care reform survey results

Interbiznet reports:

“Survey: Employers Will Continue to Offer Coverage, but Concerned about Rising Costs

Employers weigh in on implications of health care reform

Milwaukee, WI — April 24, 2012

Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer minimal essential health coverage to employees or be subject to a penalty. Over three-fourths of employers plan to continue to offer health benefit coverage for employees once this new requirement takes effect, a new survey reveals. However, a majority of employers 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 provider of software solutions for the insurance and financial service industries. Over 7,800 employers nationwide participated in the survey, available in Zywave’s Broker Briefcase® product.

Participants came from 14 business sectors, with heaviest representation from services (18 percent), manufacturing (15 percent), nonprofit (11 percent), health care (10 percent) and construction (9 percent). Respondents spanned organization size, with the following breakdown:  •Less than 50 employees (43 percent)  •50 — 99 employees (17 percent)  •100 — 499 employees (27 percent)  •Over 500 employees (14 percent)

Among companies surveyed, 51 percent will definitely continue to offer health benefit coverage, 29 percent will likely continue coverage, 3 percent will likely discontinue coverage, 1 percent will definitely discontinue or have already discontinued coverage, and 19 percent 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,” said 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:  •While most employers responding to the survey are committed to continuing health benefit coverage for their employees in the future, 76 percent have already seen an increase in their organizations health benefit costs or expect to see an increase as a result of health care reform provisions. Most employers (63 percent) plan to pass these increases on to employees.

•Employers continue to look to their employee benefit adviser to guide them through this time of uncertainty. Eighty-eight percent of respondents expect their employee benefit adviser to educate them on health care reform and its implications.

•Health care reform 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 percent of employers surveyed increased the employee share of premiums or benefit costs for all coverage, 9 percent increased the employee proportion of dependent coverage cost and 2 percent eliminated dependent coverage.

•57 percent of employers responding are concerned about their ability to offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees.

•The health care reform provisions that employers are most concerned about implementing and administering include: new reporting, disclosure and notification requirements (57 percent), additional W-2 reporting requirements (49 percent), and the requirement to automatically enroll new employees in a health plan (40 percent).”