Employers Changing Plans Due to ACA

May 16, 2013 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Many employers are making changes to their current health benefit plans as a result of Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations.

The survey, “2013 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact,” conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, shows that 69% of employers stated they will definitely continue to provide employer-sponsored health care when health exchanges come online in 2014 (see “Most Employers to Continue Health Care Benefits”). However, nearly one in five (18%) employers has already increased participants’ share of plan premiums and an additional one-quarter 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%) is increasing their emphasis on high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs), while an additional 14% 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 International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. “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%) developing or expanding organized wellness programs within the last year. Additionally, 14% of employers adopted or expanded the use of financial incentives to encourage healthier lifestyles within the past year, with another 25% 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% in 2011 to 27% in 2013,” said Stich. “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 10 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.”  

Participants for the 2013 survey were single-employer plans (including corporations) in the database of the International Foundation and the International Social of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS). Survey responses were received from 966 human resources and benefit professionals and industry experts. The surveyed organizations represent a wide base of U.S. employers from nearly 20 different industries.  

To download a copy of the survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/ACA2013.