Majority Of Employers Plan To Keep Coverage After ACA Implementation

Employers’ confidence in their sponsored health care plans has increased year-to-year, but many are planning to modify their plans due to effects from implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to recent research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). The survey, 2013 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact, also found that 90 percent of employers have moved beyond “wait and see” and are actively developing tactics and taking steps to deal with new rules and regulations due to the health reform law.

Sixty-nine percent of employers stated that they will “definitely” continue to provide employer-sponsored health care when health exchanges come online in 2014—up from 49 percent in 2012. An additional 25 percent said that they are “very likely” to continue their employer-sponsored health care offering.

However, many employers are making changes to their current benefit plans that directly affect employees and plan participants as a direct or indirect result of current and upcoming ACA regulations, IFEBP found. Eighteen percent of employers have already increased participants’ share of plan premiums and an additional 25 percent of respondents plan to increase the portion that employees pay for their premiums over the next year. Of those employers already planning to make changes, 25 percent are increasing their emphasis on high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs,) while an additional 14 percent are assessing the feasibility of adding one.

Wellness programs. Employers also are encouraging healthy behavior in employees, with 19 percent planning on developing or expanding organized wellness programs within the last year. Additionally, 14 percent of employers adopted or expanded the use of financial incentives to encourage healthier lifestyles within the past year, with another 25 percent planning to do so in the next year.

“We are seeing trends that indicate more changes may be on the horizon. More and more organizations are losing their grandfathered status, dropping from 45 percent in 2011 to 27 percent in 2013,” said Julie Stich, research director for the IFEBP. “Also many organizations are redesigning their plans to avoid the 2018 excise tax on high-cost or so-called ‘Cadillac plans.’ In 2011, only one in ten indicated they were redesigning their plan to avoid the additional tax, but we’ve seen a steady increase over the past two years that shows the number will soon double.”

The survey contains responses from 966 human resources, benefit professionals, and industry experts. For more information, visit http://www.ifebp.org/ACA2013.

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