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Most employers to continue offering health care coverage: Survey

Most employers to continue offering health care coverage: Survey

The overwhelming majority of employers say they will keep offering health care coverage to their employees when key provisions of the health care reform law take effect in 2014, according to a new survey.

Sixty-nine percent of benefit professionals responding to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey said their employers “definitely will” continue coverage next year for full-time employees, while 25% said continuation of coverage was “very likely.”

Just 2% said it was “somewhat unlikely” that coverage would be continued, and only 1% said coverage definitely would not be offered or that it was very unlikely that coverage would be provided in 2014.

That hefty percentage of respondents who said coverage definitely will be offered in 2014 contrasts with a similar survey the IFEBP did last year, when only 46% of respondents said coverage would definitely be offered.

That greater certainty expressed by employers about offering coverage next year may the result of several factors, said Julie Stich, research director for the Brookfield, Wis.-based IFEBP.

One factor may be a greater consideration by employers on how offering a health care plan can significantly aid in the recruitment and retention of employees, Ms. Stich said.

In addition to an improving economy, employers may feel more financially confident about their ability to offer coverage compared with a year ago, she said.

Key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that go into effect in 2014 include financial penalties on employers that do not offer qualified plans or whose required employee premium contributions for individual coverage fail an “affordability” test.

In addition, federal premium subsidies will be available to lower- and middle-income uninsured individuals to purchase coverage in public health insurance exchanges.

The survey findings are based on the responses of about 950 benefit professionals.

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