The passage of the Affordable Care Act gave cause for millions of Americans to celebrate, but implementing the required changes may have just as many people scratching their heads.
Currently, more 160 million Americans receive employer-sponsored health insurance, with more than 60% of U.S. companies offering health benefits, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That may change once ACA goes into effect. Deloitte’s 2012 survey of U.S. Employers: Opinions about the U.S. Health Care System and Plans for Employee Health Benefits explores the impact of state health coverage on employers.
The survey projects that employer-sponsored healthcare will never fully disappear because health benefits have been a primary tool for employers to recruit and retain employees, but employers might pull back their healthcare coverage.
Around one in 10 employers in the U.S. plans to drop health coverage once federal health care comes to fruition, and more companies say they may cut out health benefits before the next ten years. While 81% of companies representing 84% of the workforce plan to continue offering benefits, 10% of companies representing 13% of the workforce are undecided.
Deloitte estimates potentially between 23 million and 65 million individuals may join a health insurance exchange by 2020. In the mean time, employees will continue to experience higher rates as companies gradually shift the financial risk of health coverage to employees.
As it stands, employers hardly have high opinions about the status of healthcare in the U.S. Of those surveyed, 30% said the ACA is “a good start,” but 59% called it “a step in the wrong direction.” The survey indicated that 35% of employers would give the healthcare system a letter grade of A or B, but 64% would give the system an average or (ok, read wrong) failing grade of C, D, or F. Eighty percent of surveyed employers point fingers at hospital “wastefulness and high costs,” 68% blame inefficiencies and 67% blame unhealthy lifestyles for the problems in healthcare today.
”Most employers surveyed said they are not well prepared to implement the 2014 provisions of the ACA,” the survey indicated. Employers are still uncertain how the ACA changes will affect them, with 72% of surveyed employers admitting they are unfamiliar with the individual mandate, 66% saying they don’t understand employer penalties for not offering benefits, 53% saying essential benefits are confusing, and 45% saying health insurance exchanges remain a mystery.
“Employers do not understand the full scope of the ACA. Policy-makers and industry leaders should consider investing in education about and active improvement of the ACA,” the survey says.
Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @emarrion_cmn.