Nearly all companies plan to stick with employer-sponsored health plans

Survey: Fewer than 2 percent of firms looking at private exchanges for 2016 plan year

Nearly all employers who now offer health insurance to full-time workers will continue to do so in 2016, though the likelihood of offering coverage five years from now dips slightly, according to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) survey.

The IFEBP surveyed 598 human resources and benefits professionals, 562 of whom said their company currently offers an employer-sponsored health plan. Of those respondents, 98.2 percent said their company would offer coverage in 2016, while 1.6 percent said they would provide coverage but also encourage employees to seek coverage through the exchange. Only 0.2 percent of firms plan to drop coverage altogether next year.

Looking to the future, 3.4 percent of respondents said they are "somewhat unlikely" to offer coverage five years from now, while 0.5 percent said they are "very unlikely" to drop coverage. None said they would definitely drop coverage.

The reasons for maintaining coverage came as no surprise: Firms said offering health insurance helped them attract future talent, retain current employees and maintain or increase employee loyalty.

The IFEBP survey mirrors those released earlier this year by the ADP Research Institute and Mercer, both of which found that employer-sponsored health plans remain strong five years into the Affordable Care Act, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The strength of employer plans stems in large part from the fact that, to date, large employers remain bearish on private insurance exchanges. The IFEBP survey data backs this up: More than 83 percent of firms that cover full-time employees and 87 percent of those that cover part-timers are not using the exchanges.

However, firms did show more interest in considering the exchanges for coverage for employees near retirement (ages 55 to 64) as well as those in retirement (over 65), IFEBP found.

For more:
- read the IFEBP survey (.pdf)

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