Workers Believe PPACA Will Increase Premiums

October 22, 2013 ( – A majority of U.S. workers believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or ACA) will increase their health insurance premiums, according to a new survey.

“Employer Perspectives on the Future of Health Benefits and Health Care Delivery,” conducted by the National Business Group on Health, found that despite an overall lack of familiarity with the PPACA, most workers feel the law will ultimately increase how much they pay for health care insurance over the next several years.

The survey also found an increasing number of employees are confident in their ability to shop for health insurance on their own, and many workers would use a private health insurance exchange to buy insurance if offered by their employer.

According to the survey, more than half (54%) of respondents believe their health insurance premiums will rise over the next 12 months because of the PPACA, and slightly more than half (56%) expect costs to jump over the next three to five years. Additionally, about one in three employees (32%) believe the quality of their health care benefits will decline over the next three to five years. Relatively few (15%) think they won’t be able to afford coverage through their employer or union over the next three to five years, and even fewer (10%) believe their employer or union won’t offer coverage in the future.

Only four in 10 respondents were found to be familiar with the PPACA, although respondents are familiar with some of the law’s specific provisions. For example, 69% are somewhat familiar with the requirement that individuals must have or must purchase insurance, and 63% know that large and mid-sized employers must offer insurance to full-time employees. However, only 38% are aware of the creation of public health insurance exchanges.

“While employees have some knowledge about the ACA, they need to recognize that health reform brings with it additional costs for their employers and that, ultimately, they will be sharing in these costs,” said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “Neither employers nor the government can bear these added costs alone. At the same time, it’s encouraging that relatively few employees are concerned that their employer won’t provide health insurance benefits in the future. Additionally, employees are gaining confidence in their ability to shop for insurance and many are open to new and potentially cost effective ways to buy insurance through exchanges.”

Only 28% of respondents said they are not confident they can shop for health insurance on their own, compared with 37% who responded to a similar question last year. However, 47% aren’t confident in their ability to purchase the same or better quality health insurance on their own.

The survey also found that even though 66% have not heard of a private exchange, when given an explanation of how it works, 52% said they would be somewhat or very interested in purchasing health insurance through a private exchange if offered by their employer. Additionally, 66% would shop through a public exchange if offered as a less expensive option. However, more employees would stick with their employer plan if the costs were the same and even if there were more choices offered in a public exchange.

“Employees have clearly gained confidence in the last year when it comes to purchasing health care on their own. This confidence probably arises from the opening of the public marketplaces. However, many employees are not confident in their ability to purchase the same or higher quality care. Employers will need to educate employees about the value of all their benefits, especially health benefits so that employees understand the total rewards they are receiving as part of their compensation,” said Darling.

Respondents were also asked how they view various aspects of health care delivery such as:

  • Comparative Effective Research – Fifty-eight percent of employees have heard or read about comparative effectiveness research at least once. Of those who have heard about it, 92% believe this type of scientific research is somewhat or very important.
  • Centers of Excellence – Four in 10 have heard of health care facilities called Centers of Excellence. Six in 10 had a positive reaction to an employer encouraging them to seek care at a Center of Excellence.
  • Preferred Provider Networks – When asked about insurance companies’ setting up networks of doctors/medical providers who are considered best, 48% had a positive reaction to the idea. However, when asked what they would do if their provider was not part of the ‘best’ network, 40% would definitely or probably continue to see their own doctor, while 44% would switch to a doctor in the ‘best’ network.

The survey was conducted from July 30 to August 8. A total of 1,520 employees at organizations with 2,000 or more employees responded to the survey. Respondents were between the ages of 22 and 69, and receive their health care benefits through their employer or union.

The National Business Group on Health is a nonprofit organization devoted to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members’ most important health care and health benefits challenges.