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WASHINGTON — Employees understand they that will bear part of the added costs of health care plan improvements mandated by the health care reform law in the form of higher premiums, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Just over half — 54% — of employees working for large employers expect the premiums they have to pay for coverage will increase in the next 12 months, the National Business Group on Health survey found.
Employees understand “there is no free lunch. You can't add to benefit packages without costs going up,” NBGH President and CEO Helen Darling said Tuesday at a briefing in Washington.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has forced nearly all employers to upgrade their health care plans to meet new requirements. For example, plans have to extend coverage to employees' adult children up to age 26, while annual and lifetime dollar limits were eliminated.
Still, while employees, as well as their employers, face higher costs because of benefit upgrades required by the health care reform law, few employees are worried that their employers will terminate plan coverage.
Just 10% of employees believe their employers will terminate coverage in the next three to five years.
While only a minority — 40% — of employees say they are familiar with the ACA, more employees are aware of specific provisions of the law.
For example, 69% of respondents said they are at least somewhat familiar with the requirement that individuals, starting in 2014, must either enroll in a health care plan or pay a fine.
Similarly, 63% said they were aware of the ACA requirement — delayed this year by Treasury Department regulators until 2015 — that employers offer qualified coverage or pay a stiff financial penalty.
Only 23% of employees said they were aware of one of the hottest trends in the health care benefits arena — the move of employers, like Walgreen Co., to have their employees select health care plans offered through private insurance exchanges — while 66% said they had not heard of private exchanges and 11% were not sure.
But after an explanation of private exchanges was provided, a slim majority — 51% — of employees said they would be very or somewhat interested in using private exchanges.
On the other hand, 20% said would not be too interested, while 14% said they would not be at all interested and 13% were not sure.
The findings are based on the responses of 1,525 employees, all of whom work for employers with at least 2,000 employees.