In a survey conducted last year, 37% of employers described themselves as “very informed” about the ACA. This year, 69% say they are very informed.
While 23% of the respondents said they were looking into cutting staff or full-time employees, the answer varied significantly with company size. Only 10% of companies with 49 or fewer full-time employees were looking at reductions, but 21% of companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees were doing so, and 33% of companies with 100 or more full-timers were studying this strategy.
Another 15% of companies were calculating the cost of penalties vs. the cost of providing coverage.
But the bigger the company, the more likely they were to offer health insurance. Only 3% of the large companies didn't offer benefits. For medium-sized companies, the figure was 5%, and for smaller companies, it was 57%.
Despite the reported growing awareness of ACA's impacts on employers, 41% of small businesses reported being unaware of the Small Business Health Options Program, also known as SHOP, and just 7% of small companies said they intended to offer insurance through SHOP. Also, when asked what actions they have taken to prepare for ACA implementation, 32% of respondents said they hadn't taken any actions.
For many business owners, De La Torre said the general attitude was “the less amount of hands-on work they have to do with it, the better.”
He added that there was concern about employers cutting coverage of their employees' dependents, but survey respondents didn't report much change on this front. Though 10% said they would be cutting dependent coverage, 9% said they would be adding this benefit.
“Businesses still have to compete for good employees, and good, employer-based health coverage is expected,” De La Torre said. “There's a peer pressure there to provide coverage whether there's a mandate or not.”
The survey was conducted between March 26 and April 7 and included responses from 103 companies with 49 or fewer full-time employees, 100 companies with 50 to 99 full-timers and 100 companies with more than 100 workers. Forty-two percent of respondents were business owners, 8% were the company chair or CEO, 12% were company presidents and the rest of the respondents were human resource or benefits managers. A larger survey will be conducted this summer with results released around Labor Day, De La Torre said.
The Institute is funded by the Transamerica Life Insurance Co.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks