According to the preliminary survey results from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, employer-sponsored health insurance rates will rise by an average of 3.9 percent in 2015. The results also revealed that many employers will have to make changes to remain in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. This article contains an overview of the preliminary results.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that employer-sponsored benefits have only risen two percent for single coverage, and three percent for family coverage in 2014. The preliminary results of the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance found that the rates will increase by 3.9 percent-- and that’s if employers make significant changes to their current plans.
Background on the 2014 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Benefits
These are preliminary findings. The survey is still being conducted. Final results will be released by the end of 2014. The preliminary findings are based on 1,700 employers who responded by September 1. Mercer expects around 2,800 will participate in the final survey results.
National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Preliminary Findings
The preliminary results from the Mercer survey show that employers are predicting the health benefit cost per employee will rise by 3.9 percent on average in 2015. According to the survey, the projected increase actually reflects cost-mitigating actions the employers will take. If employers make no changes to their existing plans, projected costs would rise 5.9 percent on average.
Employers Making Changes to Be in Compliance with the ACA
Many employers are making changes to ensure their compliance with the ACA in 2015. Almost a quarter (22 percent) of employers who are sponsoring healthcare benefits are likely to see more employees enrolled next year when they are required to enroll all of their employees who work more than 30 hours per week. This is due to the employer shared responsibility.
A majority of employers (63 percent) were already in compliance before the ACA was enacted, while 15 percent made changes last year for 2014. Among employers with many part-time workers, such as large retail and hospitality businesses, 39 percent will need to extend coverage in 2015.
Instead of extending coverage to ensure compliance, many employers (53 percent) report that they will manage scheduling more carefully to avoid workers going over 30 hours per week, rather than extending coverage. Others (31 percent) plan to make it clear to new hires that they will be working fewer than 30 hours per week.
Employers Seeking Cost Mitigating Strategies
Two-thirds of employers reported that they will make changes to their healthcare benefits next year to control costs, while 32 percent of employers are planning on renewing their existing plans without making changes.
Low-cost, consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) are a key strategy of cost mitigation. Half of the large employers surveyed offer one today, and 73 percent of large employers will offer one within the next three years.
Additionally, 20 percent report that it will be the only choice available to employees, while 6 percent of large employers have already shifted to a full-replacement CDHP.
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