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Employers Say They Will Not Eliminate Benefits Coverage Due to Health-Care Reform

Dec. 15, 2011 — Most employers (80%) do not intend to drop health-care coverage in 2014, according to a survey administered to assess employers' sense of preparedness and understanding of the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) requirement under health-care reform. In addition, a little more than half (58%) of respondents said they were prepared to produce SBCs by the original March 2012 deadline.

These findings come from a November "Pulse Survey" conducted by HighRoads, an employer health-care compliance and benefits management firm.

"Based on these survey results, SBCs have not caused a great concern among organizations," said Kim Buckey, SPD practice lead with HighRoads. "This is partly a reflection of current communications practices — many employers are already providing a level of communication close to that required by the SBC regulations — and partly a reflection of HR departments embracing technology. By using automation to leverage existing data, they are better able to respond to required changes. That will enable timely compliance once the new deadline is determined."

While most employers do not plan to drop health-care coverage in 2014, many (65%) would drop coverage if the majority of companies in their industry eliminated their benefits programs. Conversely, most (84%) would not consider removing coverage if only a few in their industry no longer offered coverage.

Nearly all of the respondents (91%) in the study also stated that they would not consider eliminating some benefits coverage currently offered based on the complexity of the SBC requirements. Employers felt they were already committed to their health-care strategy. Of those that indicated that they would consider removing some current health-care coverage (9%), the majority (75%) said increased regulation would be the main driving factor, while the remaining (25%) cited increased health-care costs.

The study was conducted in November 2011 and included a sampling of respondents from the health-care, hospital, transportation, education, food and beverage, and energy and utility industries, with most of the respondents employed at hospitals or health-care systems.

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