A Mercer survey of employers released Tuesday found that 2015 coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act had “very little impact” on enrollment in employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
The Obamacare mandate requiring covered employers to offer plans to employees who normally worked at least 30 hours a week caused little change in the percentage or raw number of enrolled employees, according to the survey.
“Employers that had to offer coverage to more employees were braced for a bump in enrollment this year,” said Tracy Watts, a Mercer partner and health reform practice leader. “While some did see increases, for the most part it seems the newly eligible either had coverage through a parent’s or spouse’s plan or through Medicaid — or are continuing to go bare.”
The survey, buttressed by accounts from employees around the country, also indicated that some workers saw their work hours reduced to stay below the 30-hour requirement or that new workers were hired for part-time hours that didn’t require coverage.
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The review of nearly 600 employers found a 1.6 percent increase in the number of employees enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans, but that largely was because of a 2.2 percent increase in employment and not because of the health care law.
The Mercer report, “Health Care Reform Five Years In,” said the average percentage of all employees — both those eligible and those ineligible for coverage — was basically unchanged at 74 percent.
Among the surveyed employers, “the average percentage of employees who were eligible for coverage rose one percentage point, from 87 percent to 88 percent, but the average percentage of eligible employees who enrolled dropped a point, from 84 percent to 83 percent,” the report said.
Focusing on the food and lodging business, a sector most affected by the 30-hour rule, the survey found that the average percentage of employees eligible for coverage rose to 60 percent from 57 percent, but the percentage enrolled grew only one percentage point to 34 percent.
Mercer found that 81 percent of the employers surveyed were in compliance with the coverage mandate before 2015. Two percent of the respondents said they cut staff to avoid covering more employees.
Looking forward, the survey found 3 percent of the employers saying they were likely to stop sponsoring health insurance plans within five years.