A select survey of human resource and benefits managers at larger corporations reveals most of them harbor concerns about the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But they aren’t letting it dictate their benefit package designs.
Payroll giant ADP conducted the survey of more than 400 executives from companies with 1,000 or more employees.
One takeaway: Many of those interviewed admitted they weren’t fully comfortable with their preparedness for meeting some of the criteria of the PPACA. Nonetheless, 70 percent said they intended to manage act compliance internally, an indication that the C-suite expects its HR team to figure it out.
The results of the ADP survey seem to support earlier research that indicated that large employers are less concerned about the law's impact on business than they were a year ago. While challenges remain, the PPACA panic button has been placed, if not in the recycle bin, at least in the storage closet.
The ADP white paper, “Affordable Care Act and Employer Confidence: Navigating a Complex Compliance Challenge,” found that respondents felt least prepared to address the following PPACA issues:
- Exchange notices (62 percent);
- PPACA penalties (60 percent);
- Annual health care reporting (IRS Forms 1094/1095-C) (49 percent).
An ADP executive wondered aloud in a release whether these employers could truly meet the challenges of implementation without consulting assistance.
“As we meet with large employers, it has become clear that many don’t have the systems or processes in place to meet PPACA compliance requirements, highlighting a need for a cohesive internal effort and perhaps a third-party partner,” ADP SVP Vic Saliterman said. “With reporting requirements based on 2015 data and subsequent penalties going into effect in 2016, the decision to go it alone on ACA compliance could prove risky based on current levels of preparedness.”
With respect to PPACA compliance requirements, those interviewed identified the following two strategic workforce management and cost containment actions as higher priorities:
Changing employee benefits plans in advance of the Cadillac tax: With the Cadillac tax looming for high-value health care plans in 2018, “employers are continuing to employ benefits strategies that shift more costs to employees. Nearly two-thirds of large employers (63 percent) plan to increase employees' share of costs through changes to employee deductibles, employee co-pays or employer contributions.”
Emphasizing consumerism through plan design: A third of respondents said they already have shifted to a low actuarial value plan. “Of these employers, more than half (57 percent) have decided to offer a consumer-driven health plan. This kind of plan design is generally the most effective way to actively engage employees and their dependents in making smart health care decisions, which can ultimately help to reduce costs.”
Other survey highlights included:
- Most respondents said they would extend benefits coverage beyond the mandated PPACA full-time employee: “More specifically, 61 percent have already extended such coverage or plan to do so. Of those who have already or plan to extend benefits coverage, the top reasons include: talent acquisition, talent retention and avoiding penalties.”
- Most employers won’t try to modify employee in response to PPACA requirements: “Most employers in the study offer coverage to all employees averaging at least 30 hours of service per week during the employer-defined measurement period. Only about two out of five large employers have limited or are planning to limit hours for some employees.”