Despite delayed key provision, health care reform triggers benefits action among employers

Employers report impact on benefits funding, opening opportunity for voluntary benefits

Business Wire

NEWARK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

With Affordable Care Act deadlines imminent in 2014 and 2015, employers are reporting the increased impact of health care reform on various aspects of employee benefits. According to Health Care Reform: Full Steam Ahead, the first in a series of five research briefs based on The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s (Prudential’s) Eighth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond, nearly half (49%) of employers report they are extremely or very likely to make a high-deductible health plan their only health insurance option.

“Although employers anticipate scaling back benefit offerings due to cost considerations, there’s great opportunity for them to offer voluntary benefits in order to continue providing attractive benefits to their employees,” said Vishal Jain, vice president, Strategy, Planning and Business Insights, Prudential Group Insurance. “The Affordable Care Act could very well usher in a new era for and emphasis on voluntary benefits. More employers are utilizing them for recruiting and retaining talent and employees increasingly view them as a cost-effective way to protect their families’ financial futures.”

According to the report, 73% of employers say the law is having an impact on benefits service and support and 69% report there is an impact on benefits communications. “With a shifting benefits landscape, carriers are now focused on being a trusted resource for employers while offering a full spectrum of services such as enrollment communications, benefits education, record keeping, and administrative services,” Jain said.

In addition to highlighting the law’s potential impact on voluntary benefits, health insurance exchanges central to the legislation are top of mind for employees surveyed. Key findings include:

  • Employees are increasingly confident more Americans will be covered under the Affordable Care Act (43%, up 7 percentage points from 2012). An expanding number feel fewer employers will offer health insurance (44%, a 13 percentage point increase from 2012), and 38% of those employees believe their employer will drop coverage.
  • Most employees report having neither a favorable nor unfavorable opinion toward both public and private exchanges.
  • About one-third of employees report they have heard of but know little about public or private exchanges while one-in-five say they have never heard of either before the survey.

“As employers evaluate the implications of public and private exchanges, the importance of their partnerships with carriers will continue to grow. Employers will look for carriers that provide value, make benefits administration easier, help employees make better benefit decisions, and provide excellent customer service,” said Jain. “We’re poised to support our customers with innovative and cost-effective benefit solutions, coupled with a full array of services designed to improve employees’ financial wellness.”

Health Care Reform: Full Steam Ahead is the first in a series of five research briefs that highlight the major findings from Prudential’s Eighth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond. The research was conducted via the Internet during August and September of 2013, and consisted of three distinct surveys—one for plan sponsors, another for benefits brokers and consultants, and a third for plan participants.

Prudential Group Insurance manufactures and distributes a full range of group life, long-term and short-term disability and corporate and trust-owned life insurance in the U.S. to institutional clients primarily for use in connection with employee and membership benefit plans. The business also sells accidental death and dismemberment and other ancillary coverages and provides plan administrative services in connection with its insurance coverages.

Prudential Financial, Inc. (PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/.

Group coverages issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, 751 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102.

Prudential, the Prudential logo, and the Rock symbol are service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.

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Contact:
The Prudential Insurance Company of America
Sheila Bridgeforth, 973-802-6852
sheila.bridgeforth@prudential.com
or
Michael Stanley, 973-802-4392
michael.stanley@prudential.com
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