Employers Significantly More Informed About Coverage Options This Year Compared To 2013

Employers appear more informed about their companies’ options for providing health insurance this year than employers interviewed last year, according to a survey by Harris Poll on behalf of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS). In a 2013 benchmark study, only 37 percent of employers reported being very informed about their companies’ options for providing health insurance; in the 2014 study, 69 percent report being very informed.

SHOP Exchange. Among small businesses, the survey revealed that only six in ten of those with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees are aware of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), compared to eight of ten businesses overall. Just 7 percent of small businesses intend to offer employees coverage through the SHOP.

“This may be an area where more education is needed,” said TCHS Executive Director Hector De La Torre. “Small businesses with fewer than 50 full time employees are currently the only businesses eligible to participate in SHOP, yet four in ten do not know about it. Businesses of this size employ nearly 34 million workers, according to the Small Business Administration, so it’s a significant gap to address.”

Personnel, plan changes. The survey, Pulse Check on Employer Preparedness for the ACA, also found that 28 percent of employers actually expect their number of employees to increase due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), compared to 15 percent that expect the number to decrease. Most employers (64 percent) plan on taking some action to comply with the ACA, with 19 percent planning to change plan options, and 17 percent planning to change insurers.

Alternative actions. The survey also found that 29 percent of employers are researching alternative actions that may not require strict adherence to ACA mandates. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of U.S. businesses are researching reductions in employees or full-time employees in preparation for changes related to the ACA. A third of businesses with 100 or more full time employees are researching reductions. Fifteen percent are calculating the cost of the tax penalty versus the cost of complying with the ACA.

Deadline extension. Most medium-size (50-99 full time employees) employers are aware of the ACA mandate deadline extension, according to the survey. Ninety-one percent of employers with 50-99 full time employees are aware that the deadline for companies of their size to offer employees health care insurance by January 2015 was extended to January 2016. Virtually all (98 percent) employers of this size were aware of the mandate in the first place.

For more information, visit https://www.transamericacenterforhealthstudies.org/docs/default-source/research/tchs_employerpulsecheck-2014-final-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2.

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