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Employers expect little effect on group health plans from health reform

Employers expect little effect on group health plans from health reform

Less than one in five employers expect their group health benefit plans to suffer as a result of health care reform, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Only 19% of benefit managers and 17% of C-suite executives said they believe implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have an overall negative effect on the health care benefit plans they offer to their employees, according to Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc.'s 2014 Employee Benefits Trends Survey.

Conversely, 41% of benefit managers and 47% of senior-level executives said they expect the reform law's overall effect on their companies' health care plans to be positive, while 40% of benefit managers and 37% of C-suite executives predicted the law's effects on their employees' health benefits will ultimately be neutral.

Respondents did express concerns about talent and productivity, and the possible effects of complying with new taxes, coverage rules and reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act, with 47% of benefit managers and 45% of C-suite executives saying they were somewhat or very concerned about the reform law's potential to frustrate their efforts to attract and retain top talent.

“As the benefits landscape continues to evolve, employers face challenges and opportunities as they adapt to new requirements,” Dan Gowen, Wells Fargo's national employee benefits practice leader in Chicago, said in a statement. “It's a balancing act for many companies as they look to maximize employee productivity, retention and morale while also controlling cost — a factor we expect to become even more important as companies prepare for the Affordable Care Act excise tax in 2018.”

For the next 12-18 months, a majority of employers said their company's top priority when it comes to their benefit programs will be maintaining their employees' productivity, while their top strategic goal for their benefits program for the next five years will be managing the overall cost of the health care benefits they offer.

The survey polled 950 benefit managers and senior executives in the summer last year.

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