More employers than might be thought are well ahead in preparing to meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
That’s according to a survey of HR managers conducted with the coming open enrollment season in mind. Wellness program consultant and provider Keas said its survey of more than 100 HR professionals found that three-quarters of them had taken steps to meet the law’s original Jan. 1, 2014 deadline. Another 58 percent were confident they would still be fully compliant with the act by January, despite the Obama administration decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate until January 2015.
Offering a less optimistic view on the question, Aflac on Wednesday released results of a much larger, but professionally broader, study that found that just 9 percent of respondents felt their employers were “very prepared” to meet the law’s requirements. Seven of 10 workers interviewed for the Aflac study said a very basic requirement of the PPACA — that employers communicate benefits package options to workers by Oct. 1 — had yet to happen.
The Keas “HR Executive Survey” identified top open enrollment pain points for HR managers in the reform era included educating employees about available benefits (47 percent) and getting employees to participate in benefits selection (22 percent).
Also, many (39 percent) worry “they will be overwhelmed by employee communications and questions, when it comes to post PPACA implementation concerns.” On the other hand, 24 percent say they have “no concerns at all.”
"Enterprises are keeping a close eye on health reform policy,” the report said, “and a majority are well ahead of plans in preparing for these new requirements.”
Questions concerning wellness plans and employee health yielded responses that suggest “health and wellness programs are taking center stage in employee engagement and retention.”
In fact, wellness is top-of-mind this year, thanks to the act, Keas said.
“With healthcare costs and obesity-related diseases on the rise and wellness incentives baked into the Affordable Care Act, this will be the first year health will play a major role in health benefits as organizations integrate preventative care programs to manage costs,” it said.
Wellness findings included:
- 60 percent of HR executives cite “lowering overall healthcare costs” and “improving overall employee health” as top priorities of 2014;
- 34 percent plan to focus on creating a company culture of health and increasing employee participation in existing health programs;
“Businesses understand that while wellness programs have historically been optional, employee health is mission critical,” said Josh Stevens, CEO of Keas. “Our survey results show that health in the workplace is a strategic priority for 2014 – it will drive employee productivity and ultimately manage healthcare claims costs.”