Employer Surveys Show Continuing HCR Opinion Split
January 24, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Two health care reform surveys show employers and workers admit a significant knowledge gap about the law and both show a split in opinion about the future of employer-provided health coverage.
A research report about the two surveys said the data shows employers plan to pass along cost increases to workers, and workers are expecting such cost increases, but employers are evenly split as to whether they will change health coverage as a result of health reform. Workers are evenly split concerning whether they think their benefits will remain the same or will erode.
When it comes to the future of employment-based coverage, few individuals think their employer will not continue to provide health benefits after 2014. Four percent think their employer is not at all likely to continue providing health benefits, and another 9% think their employer is not very likely to provide them. Thirty-two percent think that their employer is likely to continue offering health benefits after 2014, and another 23% think their employer is very likely to continue offering them. Almost one-third (31%) were unable to say if their employer was likely to continue providing health benefits after 2014.
According to the research report by author Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), employers are more likely to pass along cost increases than cost decreases. While 41% are likely to pass along cost increases, only 30% are likely to pass along any cost decreases that are directly or indirectly related to health reform. While 23% are highly likely to pass along cost increases, only 10% are highly likely to pass along cost decreases.
When employers were asked if they are comfortable with what they knew about the law, 45% agreed that they are comfortable, 41% disagreed, and 11% strongly disagreed.
Many employers are also considering whether they will try to keep their grandfathered status. Overall, 30% of employers report that they will attempt to maintain their grandfathered status, either to avoid additional costs (21%) or to avoid complying with specific elements of health reform (9%). Only one in 10 (11%) report that they have decided not to maintain grandfathered status either because the costs would be higher (6%) or in order to modify benefits (5%). Many employers are either conducting analyses or about to conduct them to decide whether to keep grandfathered status (21%) or have not yet begun to think about grandfathered status (17%).
The data is from the 2010 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey and the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2010 SHRM Organizations’ Response to Health Care Reform Poll to examine how employers might respond to health reform and employees expectations of changes to health coverage. The 2010 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey is an online survey of 4,508 privately insured adults ages 21−64 fielded in August 2010. The 2010 SHRM Organizations’ Response to Health Care Reform Poll is a survey of 1,095 randomly selected human resource (HR) professionals with the job title of manager and above, as well as HR professionals in the compensation and benefits area. All analyses were based on respondents working at organizations with 50 or more employees. The survey was fielded July 22–August 3, 2010.
The research report is at http://www.ebri.org/pdf/notespdf/EBRI.Notes.Jan-11.FinalFlow.pdf. Fred Schneyereditors@plansponsor.com
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