Employers Cite Challenges to Offering Health Benefits

May 7, 2014 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – More than half of benefits decisionmakers surveyed believe health care costs will increase due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or ACA).

Benefits administration and payroll services provider PlanSource’s first annual Private Healthcare Exchange Survey shows 60% of senior-level benefit decision-makers feel the cost of health care will rise as a direct result of the ACA.

Besides cost, employers identified the following key challenges to providing benefits to employees:

  • Educating employees about benefit choices (65%);
  • Internal resource challenges in managing both employee issues and managing benefit providers (33%);
  • Getting information to employees on available insurance resources (30%);
  • Internal technology challenges (26%); and
  • Finding and managing benefit plans beyond just medical, dental, vision and basic life insurance plans (18%).

The survey finds only 2% of decision-makers have chosen a private exchange for their employee health benefits, with another 2% opting for a public health care exchange. Nearly one-quarter (22%) of respondents have considered a private exchange but have chosen to not participate in one. Eight percent of respondents were undecided, while 6% are interested in speaking to a carrier or broker about setting up an exchange.

When asked what private exchanges should offer employees, 79% of respondents felt the top priority was to offer competitive health care choices for their employees. Other responses included:

  • Make choosing insurance plans easier and quicker (66%);
  • Help participants and employers make better selections on insurance plans (65%);
  • Offer more competitive choices (47%);
  • Provide an online shopping experience for benefits (43%); and
  • Offer a wider range of benefit choices, beyond just medical, dental and vision (43%).

More information about the survey is available here. The survey was fielded by Employee Benefit News from March 25 to 28, 2014, among 266 industry professionals including chief financial officers, human resources executives and benefit managers.