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Are Workers Better or Worse Off Under the ACA?

According to this new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

  • 14% of employers have already reduced hours for part-time employees
  • 6% of employers plan to reduce hours for part-time employees
  • 9% of employers have considered reducing hours for full-time employees
  • 10% of employers have considered reducing their workforce as a result of the ACA

Since January, companies with a minimum of 100 employees must offer health coverage to workers on the job at least 30 hours per week—or face financial penalties.  Starting next January, this will apply to companies with 50-99 employees.

There is currently a bill in the House of Representatives that would change the rule to apply only to employees working 40 hours per week.  The bill is on its way to the Senate but the White House plans to veto it.

At SHRM’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference, The Health Care Reform Survey — 2015 Update was released.  Half of the surveyed companies had health plans “more robust” than that required by law, minimizing the adjustments they had to make when the ACA went into effect.

Other highlights from the survey:

• 54% of employers require employees to work 30 hours a week to be eligible for coverage, an increase from 44% in 2014 and 39% in 2013. 26% of employers require employees to work more than 30 hours a week to be eligible.

• 2/3 of organizations believed their organization offered the same level of health care benefits as before the ACA was enacted.

• About 3/4 of respondents said their health care coverage costs increased from 2014 to 2015.  6% reported a decrease.

• About three of five organizations have made changes to their health care coverage in the last year.

• 54% offered alternative health care plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts this year, compared to 37% in 2013. 13% of respondents say they planned to offer alternatives in the future.  Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs says “Organizations are going outside of health care plans such as HMOs and PPOs to consider plans and approaches that are affordable while still providing solid coverage.”

• 20% had health plans with grandfathered status in the past but have since dropped the status. Of the organizations that ended their grandfathered status, 19% said it would have cost more to keep the status than to change plans. “When health care reform was new, employers tried to keep their grandfathered status,” Esen said. “But now that they understand the law and its implications, employers want to come out from under that umbrella to make changes, especially if these changes lead to lower costs.”

• More than one-half (53%) said they would not be affected by an excise tax on high-cost benefits that takes effect in 2018 or are taking action to avoid the tax.