Most Employers Have Analyzed How Health Reform Will Affect Health Care Plan Costs

More than two-thirds of employers currently providing health benefits (69 percent) have analyzed how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect their health care plan costs, according to recent research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP). Additionally, of those who conducted a cost analysis, 50.2 percent were able to pinpoint the cost change in 2013 due to the ACA.

The survey found that the most common ways that employers plan to deal with increased costs due to the ACA are shifting costs to employees (53 percent) and encouraging participant health by increasing wellness and value-based health care initiatives (36 percent).

“This push for employee participation in wellness programs is a trend we have been tracking for several years now,” said Julie Stich, research director at IFEBP. “Our 2012 survey on wellness found that seven in ten U.S. employers currently offer wellness programs as a benefit to employees and with ACA implementation only months away, trends indicate this number will only continue to increase as employers look for ways to rein in costs.”

Key findings from the survey include:

• Fourteen percent of organizations with knowledge of their cost trends reported no change or a decrease in costs for 2013 due to ACA. Very few medium and large employers with knowledge of their cost trends are experiencing cost increases beyond 5 percent, but a considerable portion of smaller employers are experiencing 2013 cost increases beyond 15 percent due to ACA.

• Employers identified the top three ACA provisions impacting 2013 health benefit costs as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee (38 percent), general ACA administrative costs (35 percent) and explaining ACA provisions to participants (28 percent).

• Future provisions that will most increase costs were identified as the 2014 transitional reinsurance fee (18 percent) and the cost of providing health insurance to individuals who previously were not offered coverage in order to comply with coverage requirements (13 percent).

“The time period for organizations to ‘wait and see’ has come and gone. Our survey found that more employers are looking into the direct costs of implementing the ACA, how it will impact their bottom line, and ways to cut costs,” Stich said.

The survey contains responses from 728 human resources and benefits professionals. For more information, visit http://www.ifebp.org/ACAcost.

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