By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
BROOKFIELD, Wis. (May 21, 2015) — Virtually all employers offering group healthcare plans say they will continue to provide coverage next year, according to a new survey.
A whopping 98.2 percent of benefit professionals surveyed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) said their employers will offer coverage in 2016.
Just 1.6 percent said their employers will provide coverage in 2016 but will encourage some employees to seek coverage through the public health insurance exchanges created by the healthcare reform law, and which began running last year.
Just 0.2 percent of respondents said they would drop coverage in 2016 and direct employees to the public exchanges.
While there was widespread speculation in the months following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that employers would drop coverage and inform employees of the availability of coverage in the public exchanges, numerous surveys, including the IFEBP survey, which was released May 14, have found that few employers intend to do that.
The top two reasons, according to the IFEBP survey, employers say they are continuing coverage are the need to attract top talent, cited by 78.7 percent of respondents, and to retain current employees, cited by 74.8 percent of benefit professionals surveyed.
“Healthcare benefits are seen as essential for attracting future talent and retaining current high-quality employees,” Julie Stich, the director of research at the Brookfield-based IFEBP said in a statement.
“Employers may change the structure of their healthcare plans or shift some of the cost burden to their employees, but it doesn't appear they will stop offering healthcare benefits anytime soon,” she added.
In another area, few — just 3 percent — respondents said their employers offer healthcare coverage to employees through private exchanges, while just over 12 percent say their organizations are considering it.
There is greater employer interest in offering exchange coverage to retirees. For example, 10.8 percent of respondents said their employers now offer private exchange coverage to retirees age 65 and older, while 17.2 percent are considering doing so.
In addition, 5.2 percent of respondents said their employers now offer exchange coverage to retirees between ages 55 through 64, while 19.4 percent are considering it.
The findings are based on the responses of 598 benefit professionals surveyed in March.
This report appeared on the website of Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.