Employers, for better or worse, are investing in more in health care for their employees, according to a new survey commissioned by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies and conducted by Harris Poll in August.
The survey, which included 1,500 business executives across the country found that the percentage of companies that do not provide any health benefit to employees is at an-all time low — 18 percent. That’s up from 21 percent two years ago, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was implemented.
Virtually all firms (99 percent) with more than 50 employees provide their full-time workers with health care, compared to only 61 percent of businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
The survey found that half of business executives believe the cost of health care will remain stable over the next two to three years. A significant minority — 44 percent — believe costs will increase, while a negligible 5 percent expect costs to go down.
Similarly, half of employers said they believe the quality of health care will stay the same in the coming years, compared to 40 percent who say it will improve and 10 percent who expect it to get worse.
Most employers say that they plan to keep health costs constant across the board. That means they are not envisioning raising the amount spent by the company or employees on premiums, deductibles or co-pays.
Thirty percent of employers said they were looking to maximize employee contributions to premiums and 27 percent said they hoped to maximize workers’ contributions to deductibles, while 26 percent said they were looking to maximize their own contribution to insurance premiums. However, far fewer expressed interest in “minimizing” either employer or employee contributions to insurance.
Employers also are offering more health plans to employees, often adding high-deductible plans and consumer-driven options in addition to traditional PPO or HMO options. However, employers that only offer one plan are much more likely to offer a PPO.
There does not appear to be much of a difference between mid-size businesses (between 50 and 500 workers) and larger ones. But small employers are far less likely to offer high-deductible plans, consumer-driven plans and health savings accounts. Half of large companies offer HSAs and a third offer consumer-driven plans, while only 28 percent of small employers offer HSAs and only 17 percent offer consumer-driven plans.
Forty-five percent of employers worry they’ll be hit with the Cadillac tax because of their generous health care benefits, and few of them appear resigned to forking over more money to Uncle Sam. In fact, 84 percent of employers that anticipate being subject to the tax are planning to avoid it by paring down benefits.