The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—also known as the ACA—was signed into law more than five years ago, requiring dramatic changes to the plans employers can offer their workers, how information on those plans are communicated, how eligibility is determined, and much more. It is only natural to believe that changes of this magnitude play a significant role in shaping employer-sponsored health benefits trends.
A recent report by the ADP Research Institute took a look at the plans offered by nearly 200 large employers—defined as those with 1,000 or more employees—between 2011 and 2015. After careful analysis, they identified several trends and key metrics of note—all at least partially attributable to the ACA. We’ve summarized the most interesting for you below, though you can review the entire report for yourself on the ADP Research Institute website.
Health Benefit Eligibility and Participation
In 2015, 93 percent of full-time employees were eligible for employer-provided benefits, up from 91 percent in 2011. This is possibly due to employers complying with ACA requirements and offering benefits to more of their workers. However, despite higher eligibility, only 75 percent took advantage of the health plan. As such, overall participation remained steady at 69 percent.
As might be expected, the highest participation rates were found among employees in the oldest age groups. In 2015, nearly 74 percent of eligible workers aged 60 or older participate in their employer’s health plan. Nearly 75 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 59 participated, while a little over 72 percent of those between 40 and 49 enrolled in the health benefit offered. Participation was lowest (37 percent and 69 percent respectively), among eligible workers 26 years old and younger and those aged 26 to 39.
Health Benefit Premiums
Researchers considered data on the premium costs of full-time employees at large employers in which both the employees and employers contributed to payment. The average monthly premium ($870 in 2015) rose slightly more than 2 percent each year between 2011 and 2015, resulting in an aggregate increase of 9.4 percent across all industries and demographic groups. Surprisingly—given the dire predictions of some pundits prior to ACA rollout—this is much lower than the double-digit increases seen in previous decades.
Employer contributions towards premiums declined an average of 0.7 percent from 2011 to 2015. The average total employer contribution in 2015 was $650, or about 75 percent of the monthly premium.
Whether you’re a small employer or a large organization, including an ACA-compliant health plan in your benefits package is essential if you want to attract and retain the best talent in your industry. Give us a call today for a benefit program review or additional assistance.