in the era of Health Care Reform
Fast Facts from the 2013 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey and other Research Findings

Workers continue to lack sufficient knowledge about benefits coverage, resulting in inertia and costly mistakes.

  • Only 26% of employees say they always understand everything that is covered by their policy and nearly three-quarters (74%) say they only sometimes, rarely or never understand everything that is covered by their policy.
  • When asked if they understand the changes in their policies each year, 71% of workers say they only sometimes, rarely or never understand the changes; 29% say they always understand the changes in their policies.
  • When selecting health insurance, employee benefits, one-third (33%) of workers say they always have a full understanding of the deductible costs; while 56% sometimes/rarely have a full understanding of the deductible costs.
  • Yet nine-of-ten (90%) workers elect the same benefit coverage year after year.
  • More than half of employees surveyed (54%) believe they waste up to $750 annually because of mistakes they make during benefits enrollment.
  • Employees say they have made the following mistakes:
         - 23% put too little or too much in their Flexible Spending Account
         - 21% chose benefits they didn’t need or the wrong level of coverage
         - 15% did not elect available benefit or voluntary benefit coverage
         - 14% did not check to be sure their preferred medical professionals were in network or that the coverage deductions were correct

Health care reform causes additional confusion for workers and employers, leading to gaps in coverage and additional costs.

  • 37% of workers think it will be more difficult to understand everything in their policy due to changes in health care reform.
  • Seven out of ten (69%) employers haven't communicated changes coming to their benefit package due to health care reform.
  • Of those workers whose employers have communicated changes coming to their benefits package due to health care reform, nearly one-quarter (22%) of employees are unhappy or dissatisfied with those changes, while another 12% are worried or confused.
  • 60% of workers have not begun to educate themselves about coming changes to their benefits package due to health care reform.
  • 42% of companies think health care reform will result in more gaps in coverage. 1
  • More than seven-of-ten (71%) companies believe costs to employees will increase as a result of health care reform. 1

Benefits changes may cause worker dissatisfaction and turnover.

  • Only 36% of companies strongly agree that “looking ahead a few years and considering the impact of health care reform, offering a comprehensive benefits package will be important to our company.” 1
  • 36% companies say health care reform will affect the benefits they offer to employees, specifically because they will likely offer fewer benefits or discontinue all benefits. 1
  • Yet, 60% of workers strongly agree/agree with the statement, “I expect my employer to continue to offer comprehensive benefit options.”
  • However, 55% of American workers are at least somewhat likely to look for another job if their employers stop offering comprehensive benefits, including sending them to a marketplace or exchange to buy health insurance.

The financial impact -- higher employee costs.

  • Half of all workers (51%) say the maximum amount of increase to their monthly health insurance premium that they are able to cover financially is $25 per month. 
         - Nearly a quarter of workers (23%) say the maximum amount of increase to their monthly health insurance premium they are able to cover financially is $50 per month.

  • If a portion of workers’ monthly health insurance premium increased, 40% of workers would keep their current plan and pay the increase while cutting expenses elsewhere to cover the difference. However: 
         - 20% would trade down to a health insurance plan with lower premiums that offers less coverage 
         - 19% would shop for health care benefits elsewhere, such as going to a health insurance exchange 
         - 14% would move to a high deductible health plan with lower premiums, where they would have to pay a larger deductible 
         - 8% would drop their health care insurance coverage altogether

  • Nearly one-third (30%) of workers are only willing to spend $100 for their health insurance deductible each year; 31% say $500, and 22% say $1,000.
  • Workers on average contribute $999 for single coverage and $4,565 for family coverage, while the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance is $5,884 for single coverage and $16,351 for family coverage. 2
  • Meanwhile, the average employee deductible (for single coverage alone) is $1,135 annually.2

About the 2013 Open Enrollment Survey

The 2013 Open Enrollment Survey of the Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted online within the United States in August 2013 among 2,001 consumers ages 18 and older, of whom 1,622 were employed full time and 379 were employed part time and, responsible for insurance decisions. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


1 2013 Aflac Buyer/Non-Buyer Survey, conducted in August 2013 of 1,222 benefits decision-makers in the U.S.
2 The Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2013 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey.

This material is intended to provide general information about an evolving topic and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice regarding any specific situation. Aflac cannot anticipate all the facts that a particular employer or individual will have to consider in their benefits decision-making process. We strongly encourage readers to discuss their HCR situations with their advisors to determine the actions they need to take or to visit healthcare.gov (which may also be contacted at 1-800-318-2596) for additional information.