Employers weigh in on how they feel about the continued chances for upheaval in the health care markets due to the goings on in Washington, D.C., in the Fifth Annual Transamerica Center for Health Studies Survey: “Employers Hold Steady in Time of Uncertainty.”
Harris Poll surveyed 1,520 U.S. employer decision-makers on behalf of the nonprofit research center, and found that 66 percent say their company is extremely aware or very aware of the potential changes to federal health care policy by both Congress and the Trump administration.
The top concern? More than a quarter (26 percent) of the survey’s respondents say the most common fear among their employees is losing health care due to a pre-existing condition.
“Overwhelmingly, both employers and employees are aware of potential changes to our health care system and are tuned into what’s happening in Washington,” says Hector De La Torre, the center’s executive director.
If Congress and the administration were to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, 22 percent of employers would evaluate their health care coverage options, 21 percent would not make any changes, and 19 percent would increase coverage.
Currently, 84 percent of employers are offering benefits to their part-time and full-time employees, and right now, employers – and their workforce – are pretty happy with the status quo of their organization’s coverage.
The vast majority (91 percent) of employers believe their workers are satisfied with the health insurance plans their company offers, and employees confirm this: three in four workers are satisfied with the health insurance plan (77 percent) and other benefits (77 percent) their company offers to them, according to an earlier Transamerica survey of 4,602 U.S. adults ages 18 to 24, released last month.
Even so, 76 percent of employers say their company is concerned about the affordability of health insurance. For those employers that offer health insurance to their employees, 61 percent are working to keep costs constant for employees, including employees’ share of premiums (61 percent), deductibles (59 percent) and co-pays/co-insurance (60 percent).
However, only 59 percent of employees feel that their employer is concerned about the affordability of their health insurance, according to the earlier survey.
A majority (86 percent) of the employers concerned about affordability are proactively doing something about it. Nearly a third (30 percent) are promoting health and wellness, and the same percentage say their company is encouraging the use of generic medications.
More employers are offering wellness programs now compared to 2016 (55 percent versus 62 percent), returning to numbers that are similar to 2015 (61 percent). Roughly four in five employers believe the programs have made a positive impact on workers’ health (78 percent), and productivity and performance (75 percent).
However, a disconnect still remains, since only 40 percent of employees in the earlier survey say their employer offers a wellness program and a higher percentage of employers actually offer programs.
This could be due to a related survey finding that managers (78 percent) and professionals (75 percent) are more likely than hourly workers (65 percent) to participate in company wellness offerings.
“Employers may want to examine how their programs are structured to make sure all employees have access to these programs and opportunities to relieve stress and improve their health, especially in light of employees’ concerns about pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health insurance coverage,” De La Torre says.
Of the companies that currently do not offer and are not likely to offer wellness programs to their employees, 29 percent say their company is not big enough and 23 percent say their employees are not interested.