A recent survey of more than 4,000 employers finds substantial angst among them about provisions in the Affordable Care Act.
Human resources consulting firm Mercer Inc. conducted the poll. A majority of respondents said they had been waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the law’s constitutionality. About 40 percent will now start working toward compliance, but 16 percent are going to keep waiting until after the November elections.
Reform law provisions that employers are expected to meet in 2012 or 2013 include providing benefit summary disclosures, complying with new dollar limits on health care flexible spending accounts, and increasing Medicare withholding for high earners, according to Mercer. And there also are plenty of provisions going into effect in 2014 that will be challenging, the consultancy notes.
These include a requirement that employees working an average of at least 30 hours a week be eligible for health care coverage, which 28 percent of respondents deemed a significant challenge. It means that retailers, health care organizations and other employers with large part-time populations will have to choose between covering more employees or having employees work fewer hours, says David Rahill, president of Mercer’s health and benefits unit. “With the average cost of health coverage now exceeding $10,000 per employee, a big jump in enrollment is not economically feasible for many employers.”
For your consideration: More employer ramifications in the reform law
Another 29 percent of employer respondents expect that auto-enrollment of newly eligible employees in health coverage will be challenging. Employees will automatically be covered unless they proactively opt out, raising the number of insured, but other reform provisions limit the insurance costs that employers can pass on to employees, according to Mercer.
An excise tax on high-cost health plans, effective in 2018, concerns 47 percent of respondents and is the most worrisome provision. That likely means more employer interest in high-deductible health plans and employee health management programs. Fifty-four percent of employer respondents expect to be more aggressive about managing plan costs, while 41 percent said they already are aggressive.
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