METLIFE POLL FINDS NON-MEDICAL BENEFITS INCREASING IN IMPORTANCE IN THE WAKE OF HEALTH CARE REFORM
Employers Looking to Their Benefits Advisors for Insights
NEW YORK, NY - January 25, 2011 – The majority of both small and large employers say they currently have no plans to reduce their spending on non-medical benefits in the wake of health care reform. The MetLife Health Care Reform Poll found that only one in ten employers with fewer than 500 employees and two in ten with 500 or more workers anticipate reducing spending on benefits like disability, life and dental insurance as a result of the legislation. In fact, 43% of employers feel strongly that offering non-medical benefits will become a more important strategy for their companies over the next five years.
“This is good news for workers since the poll also found that health care reform has increased the importance of non-medical benefits to them. The poll found that 71% of employees who say they have a good understanding of health care reform also say that their non-medical benefits are very important in driving their feelings of employer loyalty, compared to only 57% of employees who admit they don’t have a good understanding of the legislation,” says Dr. Ronald Leopold, vice president and national medical director, U.S. Business, MetLife.
Health Insurance Changes
The poll also found that while many small employers are not sure about next action steps, larger employers are considering changes to their health plan designs and increasing cost-sharing arrangements with employees. For example:
|Changes to Plan Design||Increase $ Sharing||Undecided|
|Employers, <50 employees||22%||24%||45%|
|Employers, <500 employees||28%||28%||40%|
|Employers, 500+ employees||39%||40%||18%|
Larger employers are also planning to focus more on wellness and disease management programs as a result of health care reform. While 11% of employers with fewer than 500 employees say they will put greater emphasis on these programs, the percentage more than doubles to 27% for employers with 500 or more employees.
As a result of health care reform, employers – particularly smaller employers – are turning to their benefits consultants, brokers and agents for more help. The MetLife poll found that 57% of employers with fewer than 500 employees and 48% of employers with 500 or more workers say they will be relying on their consultants, brokers and agents more than ever.
Interestingly, the poll also found that human resources (HR) professionals have familiarized themselves with the details of various components of the Patient Protection and Coverage Act (PPACA) more so than their C-suite colleagues. For example, when asked about their level of understanding regarding changes required of grandfathered health insurance plans, 41% of HR professionals participating in the survey said they had a very good understanding compared to only 19% of company executives. Similarly with regard to potential fees for not offering health insurance or not offering an acceptable plan, 41% of HR professionals said they had a very good understanding compared to 26% of C-suite respondents. With regard to the “Cadillac Tax” on high value health insurance plans, 36% of HR respondents said they had a very good understanding compared to 24% of C-suite participants.
“HR professionals are in an excellent position to work with company leadership to help them understand the business implications of healthcare reform – reinforcing the importance of having a ‘seat at the table,’” adds Leopold.
The MetLife Health Care Reform Poll was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2010 and was fielded by GfK Custom Research North America. The employer survey comprised 1,508 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees. The employee sample comprised 1,412 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over, at companies with a minimum of two employees.
MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 60 countries. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.