A MetLife news release about its survey said the poll found that only one in ten employers with fewer than 500 employees and two in ten with 500 or more workers anticipate reducing spending on benefits like disability, life and dental insurance as a result of the legislation. Forty-three percent of employers said they feel strongly that offering non-medical benefits will become a more important strategy for their companies over the next five years.
“This is good news for workers since the poll also found that health care reform has increased the importance of non-medical benefits to them. The poll found that 71% of employees who say they have a good understanding of health care reform also say that their non-medical benefits are very important in driving their feelings of employer loyalty, compared to only 57% of employees who admit they don’t have a good understanding of the legislation,” says.Ronald Leopold, vice president and national medical director, U.S. Business, MetLife, in the news release.
The survey found 45% of employers with fewer than 50 workers are undecided about potential benefits changes, only 18% of those with 500 or more employees are undecided. Among those planning increased cost sharing, 24% had fewer than 50 employees, 28% had fewer than 500, and 40% had 500 or more. Those anticipating plan design changes included 22%, 28%, and 39% in the three employer size groups, respectively.
Larger employers are also planning to focus more on wellness and disease management programs as a result of health care reform. While 11% of employers with fewer than 500 employees say they will put greater emphasis on these programs, the percentage more than doubles to 27% for employers with 500 or more employees.
As a result of health care reform, employers – particularly smaller employers – are turning to their benefits consultants, brokers and agents for more help. The poll found that 57% of employers with fewer than 500 employees and 48% of employers with 500 or more workers say they will be relying on their consultants, brokers and agents more than ever.
Interestingly, the poll also found that human resources (HR) professionals have familiarized themselves with the details of various components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) more so than their C-suite colleagues, according to the announcement.
For example, when asked about their level of understanding regarding changes required of grandfathered health insurance plans, 41% of HR professionals participating in the survey said they had a very good understanding compared to only 19% of company executives. Similarly with regard to potential fees for not offering health insurance or not offering an acceptable plan, 41% of HR professionals said they had a very good understanding compared to 26% of C-suite respondents. With regard to the “Cadillac Tax” on high value health insurance plans, 36% of HR respondents said they had a very good understanding compared to 24% of C-suite participants.
The poll was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2010 and was fielded by GfK Custom Research North America. The employer survey comprised 1,508 interviews with benefits decisionmakers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees.