Health Reform Concerns on Employees’ and Employers’ Minds

March 26, 2013 ( – Health insurance costs are very much on employees’ minds, says a new research brief by Prudential.

According to “Health Care Reform: The Waiting Is Over”, the third in a series of research briefs from The Prudential Insurance Company of America, nearly half (46%) of employees believe it is likely the cost of health insurance will increase overall and nearly one-third (31%) said it is likely fewer employers will offer health insurance coverage because of health care reform. 

Brokers and employers both anticipate consequences from health care reform, with brokers expecting a larger impact. Both groups agree benefits funding will be most affected. Among their top concerns, brokers expect the number of employee benefits offered (80%) and benefit communications (78%) to be highly impacted, while employers cite benefits service and support (56%), as well as number of benefits offered (55%) as their top concerns. 

Seventy-two percent of brokers say expertise and thought leadership about health care reform from insurers is either critical or very helpful. 

“Brokers tell us that helping clients navigate heath care reform and lowering clients’ benefits costs are their most critical priorities,” said Vishal Jain, vice president, strategy and planning for Prudential Group Insurance. “They are looking to us, the carriers, to provide the marketing, education, and communications that will help employers to continue to deliver strong benefit offerings.” 

The research found mid-size employers (those with 500 to 9,999 employees) anticipate a greater impact on all aspects of employee benefits compared to small or large companies. Sixty-eight percent said health care reform will have a significant impact on employee benefits funding, and 61% said it will have a significant impact on employee benefits communications. Large companies (those with 10,000 or more employees) were less likely to say that the number of employee benefits offered will be impacted. 

Twenty-nine percent of employers said they are at least “somewhat likely” to cease providing health care benefits to their employees. Those companies who said they were leaders in health care reform adoption were most likely to say they are not considering scaling back on benefits offerings. 

“Our survey has given us insights into the concerns of employers and brokers alike as the employee benefits landscape undergoes significant changes,” noted Jain. “As a carrier, our role is to help both groups meet the challenges ahead by providing consultative expertise, as well as access to an array of voluntary benefits and services, to help employers continue to offer benefit programs that attract and retain employees, even as they potentially implement significant changes to healthcare benefits.” 

The research brief highlighted major findings from Prudential’s “Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond”. The research was conducted online during July 2012, and consisted of three distinct surveys of plan sponsors, plan participants, and broker/consultant audiences.