Midsized Businesses Grapple with Healthcare Coverage Options

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 29, 2011

"The new healthcare reform law imposes billions of dollars in new healthcare taxes and benefit mandates that will make it even harder for employers to continue offering coverage to their employees," Zirkelbach says. "In order to make healthcare coverage more affordable for families and small businesses, there needs to be a much greater focus on the underlying cost of medical care that is driving up the cost of coverage." 

By a narrow majority, 53% of employers said they are confident that healthcare reform will be implemented on schedule, but 70% are skeptical that health insurance exchanges will provide a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage for active employees in 2014 or 2015.

Along with that uncertainty, 56% of employers believe that they will trigger the excise tax by 2018. Yet more than three-quarters believe that healthcare benefits will continue to be a key component of their employee compensation beyond 2014.

Between now and 2014, employers are planning or considering the following actions:

  • Increase offering of account-based health plans (17% intend to add this plan design in 2013 or 2014, which would result in nearly three in four [74%] employers offering an ABHP)
  • Use value-based benefit designs(49%)
  • Increase use of preferred networks (58%)

Further strategy changes in 2014 and 2015 include:

  • Substantially reduce the health care benefit value of active employees (47%)
  • Reduce employee health care contributions for lower-paid workers (57%)
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