If there’s been any lingering doubt on the question, new data is in confirming that large employers are committed to providing subsidized health coverage to their employees, regardless of Obamacare.
Almost all of the 420 respondents to a Towers Watson survey inquiring about health coverage strategies in the era of healthcare reform said they would not consider discontinuing the benefit.
Among the survey’s other findings:
- Nearly three-quarters of respondents believe healthcare reform will result in significant changes in the way their current employees experience healthcare coverage. Cost shifting is unavoidable.
- Big bosses — CEOs and CFOs — will find themselves spending more time dealing with healthcare costs.
- Companies are considering various actions to control costs: changing plan designs, emphasizing outcome-based incentives and reducing coverage subsidies for spouses and dependents.
- Wellness plans’ popularity was underscored as 70 percent agreed they have “a stronger commitment … (to) wellness and health management programs.”
- Employer subsidies for retiree medical coverage continue to erode. “The percentage of employers that are somewhat or very likely to discontinue their employer-sponsored plan for post-65 retirees will grow from 25 percent in 2014 to 44 percent in 2015,” the survey said. “And with the advent of public exchanges making new solutions available for pre-65 retirees, the percentage of employers that are somewhat or very likely to discontinue their plan for pre-65 retirees will jump from 10 percent in 2014 to 38 percent in 2015.”
- State exchanges don’t represent a suitable alternative for employee health coverage — 88 percent lacked confidence in state exchanges in their first year, and 61 percent felt the state exchanges wouldn’t be working well in 2015.
- Private exchanges were preferred. These were seen as becoming a viable alternative in 2014 by 37 percent, and by 57 percent by 2015.
The two-part survey focused both on big-picture questions, such as which direction a company’s healthcare planning might take, and on specific numbers, e.g., how much do you think you’ll spend per employee for health coverage next year?