Annual survey reveals highest rate of employers offering health care benefits since 2013 despite concerns about looming changes

Nearly two in three employers (66 percent) say their company is extremely/very aware of the potential changes to health care policy coming out of Washington D.C., and more than a quarter (26 percent) of employers report that the most common fear among their employees is losing health care due to a preexisting condition, according to the 2017 employer health care survey, Employers Hold Steady in Time of Uncertainty, from the national Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS).

When asked how they would like their employer to react if the health insurance mandate was removed by Congress and the President, the top responses were:

  • Evaluate coverage options (22 percent);
  • Not make any changes (21 percent); and
  • Increase coverage (19 percent).

The survey also found that 91 percent of employers think their employees are satisfied with the health insurance plans they offer, a finding consistent since 2014. Meanwhile, three in four employees are satisfied with the health insurance plan (77 percent) and other benefits (77 percent) their company offers to them.

“Overwhelmingly, both employers and employees are aware of potential changes to our health care system and are tuned into what’s happening in Washington,” said Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS. The survey found that 84 percent of employers are offering benefits to their part-time and full-time employees. With open enrollment under way employees are looking closely at health care premium and deductible costs for the year ahead.

Affordability.

More than three in four employers (76 percent) say their company is concerned about the affordability of health insurance, and of those, a majority (86 percent) are taking some action to combat cost. In particular, 30 percent of employers are creating an organizational culture that promotes health/wellness and the same percentage (30 percent) say their company is encouraging the use of generic medications. The survey also found that of those who offer health insurance to their employees, approximately six in 10 are working to keep costs constant for employees, including employees’ share of premiums (61 percent), deductibles (59 percent) and co-pays/co-insurance (60 percent). Meanwhile, only 59 percent of employees feel that their employer is concerned about the affordability of their health insurance.

Workplace wellness.

More employers are offering wellness programs now compared to 2016 (55 percent versus 62 percent), returning to numbers that are similar to 2015 (61 percent). Approximately four in five employers believe the programs have made a positive impact on workers’ health (78 percent), and productivity and performance (75 percent). However, a disconnect still remains since only 40 percent of employees say their employer offers a wellness program and a higher percentage of employers actually offer programs.

This could be due to a related survey finding that managers (78 percent) and professionals (75 percent) are more likely than hourly workers (65 percent) to participate in company wellness offerings.

“Seventy-four percent of employers say that their workplace wellness program positively impacts workers’ job satisfaction,” said De La Torre. “However, employers may want to examine how their programs are structured to make sure all employees have access to these programs and opportunities to relieve stress and improve their health, especially in light of employees’ concerns about pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health insurance coverage.”

Of the companies that currently do not offer and are not likely to offer wellness programs to their employees, 29 percent say their company is not big enough and 23 percent say their employees are not interested.

SOURCE: www.transamericacenterforhealthstudies.org
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