Employee skepticism about the Affordable Care Act is presenting employers with a new challenge: how to communicate the law and its relationship to workers’ health benefits.
That might be a tall task given the findings of a recent National Business Group on Health study. Respondents say that health care reform will increase how much they pay for health insurance during the next several years — despite admitting to an overall lack of familiarity with the legislation.
“This research points to the importance of employers taking an active role in helping their employees understand the choices and implications that flow from the new legislation,” said Thomas Parry, president of the Integrated Benefit Institute.
More than half of respondents said they believe their health insurance premiums will rise during the next 12 months because of the ACA, and slightly more than half said they expect costs to jump in the next three to five years, according to the survey. A total of 1,520 employees at organizations with 2,000 or more employees responded to the survey.
“Increasing costs are the reality, not just a perception,” said Jennifer Benz, CEO of benefits consulting firm Benz Communications. “Employers are seeing costs increase as a result of ACA, coming from specific changes in coverage as well as fees.”
While respondents think costs will climb and quality will drop, only 4 in 10 said they are familiar with the ACA. Respondents are familiar with some of the law’s specific parts, such as the provision that individuals must have insurance or that midsize employers must offer insurance. However, fewer than 4 in 10 are aware of the creation of public health insurance exchanges.
“While employees have some knowledge about the ACA, they need to recognize that health reform brings with it additional costs for their employers and that, ultimately, they will be sharing in these costs,” said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of more than 375 large U.S. employers.
“Neither employers nor the government can bear these added costs alone,” she said.