How are Employers Responding to Health Care Reform?

A new survey published in May by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Health Care Reform: What Employers Are Considering, examines how more than 1,000 employers, representing over seven million lives, are reacting to the legislation and the strategies they are implementing within their organizations. Companies responding ranged in size from “small” employers with fewer than 500 employees to large companies with more than 20,000 employees. The survey is the first in a series of surveys by the Foundation that will look at health care reform’s impact on employers.

Some of the findings are quite interesting.  For example, 87% of employers agree that their organizations will continue to offer health care benefits because they are critical to employee recruitment, retention and remaining competitive.   That’s good to hear.  I wonder who the other 13% of employers are and how they plan to tell their employees that they will no longer be offering health benefits.

Other findings:

  • Two thirds (66%) of employers agree that their organizations will take advantage of the new legal provision that will offer increased levels of financial incentives available to employees who participate in employer-provided wellness programs; 9% disagree, and 25% are not sure.
  • Almost half of all respondents (48%) are focusing on redesigning their health plans so that by 2018, their plans will avoid triggering the excise “Cadillac” tax for high-value plans.
  • One in five employers (21%) is planning to add or increase emphasis on high-deductible health plans in the next 12 months. Close to 70% of these employers are likely to focus on account-based plans linked to health savings accounts.
  • Of employers whose plans currently include lifetime maximum provisions on essential benefits, only 4% are removing lifetime maximums before they are required to do so, 86% are not making changes until required, and 10% are not sure. Likewise, 4% of employers offering plans with annual maximums are removing them before they are legally required to do so, 84% are not making changes until required and 12% are not sure.

So, as an employer, how are you going to respond to health care reform?  Have you spoken with your benefits consultant or broker about what health care reform means to you?


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