Benefits & Compensation News

3 Obamacare mandates employers still don’t understand

Whether you want to blame it on the complexity of the law or ignorance on the part of the business community, there’s still a lot employers don’t understand about healthcare reform.

For starters many small businesses don’t even know if they’re required to provide health insurance to employees.

Obamacare insurance mandate: 69% in the dark

More than a third (34%) of small businesses incorrectly believe they’re required to buy health insurance for their workers in 2014. And another 35% aren’t sure whether they have to provide coverage.

Those findings came out of the Fall 2012 Small Employer Benefits Survey conducted by eHealthInsurance, a private health insurance exchange. The survey was conducted in August and generated 439 responses from small businesses that had purchased insurance policies through eHealthInsurance.

Only two of the businesses surveyed were large enough to be required by the healthcare reform law to offer health insurance to their employees.

The law requires companies with 50 or more employees to at least offer their “full-time equivalent” workers health insurance or pay a tax for not offering coverage. The tax for not offering coverage is $2,000 per employee per year, excluding the first 30 employees.

Nearly seven in 10 of those surveyed either incorrectly believe they would be required to pay a tax for not providing coverage or are not sure.

In addition, a lot of small businesses are drawing a blank when it comes to the health insurance exchanges that are required to be up and running in 2014. Nearly eight in 10 said they’re not familiar with the exchanges or how they could impact their businesses.

The reason businesses aren’t more “up” on the law: Just 25% said understanding the law’s impact on their business is their biggest concern.

As a result, 77% said they’re not doing any long-term planning around how healthcare reform might impact their business.

Health plan management

The survey also asked several questions about businesses’ plans/opinions when it comes to managing their health plans.

Notable findings:

  • To reduce health plan costs, 51% said they’d increase employees’ share of the premiums, 39% would consider increasing employees’ deductibles and 44% said it would be fair to penalize employees who don’t participate in a wellness program.
  • 28% said they never ask employees for their input when reviewing their health plans.
  • 29% said they’d consider dropping health coverage when the bulk of the health reform law’s mandates kick in.
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