Two-thirds of U.S. employers to continue offering health benefits in 2014: Survey

But employee premiums increasing
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 05/21/2013

American employers’ confidence in their sponsored health-care plans increased year-to-year, but many are planning to modify their plans due to effects from implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), found a new survey the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).

The vast majority of employers (90 per cent) have moved beyond a “wait and see mode” and are actively developing tactics and taking steps to deal with new rules and regulations stemming from the new health-care reform law, found the poll of 966 human resources and benefits professionals.

The survey, 2013 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact shows 69 per cent of employers stated they will definitely continue to provide employer-sponsored health care when health exchanges come online in 2014 — a 23 point increase from 2012 (46 per cent). Another quarter (25 per cent) of respondents stated they are very likely to continue their employer-sponsored health care offering.

However, findings revealed that many employers are making changes to their current benefit plans as a result of current and upcoming ACA regulations. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) employers has already increased participants’ share of plan premiums and an additional quarter (25 per cent) 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, one in four (25 per cent) is increasing their emphasis on high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs,) while an additional 14 per cent are assessing the feasibility of adding one.

“Employers across the country have to deal with the impact of implementing the ACA while still being able to provide competitive benefits for their employees,” said Julie Stich, research director for the IFEBP. “Employees across the board can expect to see changes in how their employer-sponsored health care plans operate.”

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

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