Health Care Reform Insights

Health care reform, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), affects employers of all sizes. With responses from 1,884 benefits decision-makers and 5,299 employees across the U.S., the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report captures the national pulse on important issues related to the new benefits landscape.

Health care reform is confusing – not just for employees, but for HR leaders and business decision-makers too:

  • Three quarters of U.S. workers (75%) agree that health care reform is too complicated to understand.
  • Only 27% of employers understand health care reform very or extremely well.
  • Just 5% say they understand the legislation extremely well.

In preparation of health care reform, in 2013 companies plan to:

  • Add or strengthen programs or policies to encourage more health conscious behavior to lower costs (28%)
  • Offer a high deductible health plan as an additional option (27%)
  • Replace their current health plan with only a high deductible health plan (11%)
  • Move to a self-funded model (10%)
  • Terminate employer-sponsored health plans (9%)

Still, many companies say they lag behind when it comes to preparing for and communicating about health care reform:

  • Only 21% of U.S. companies say they are extremely or very prepared to address changes coming to our health care system in 2014.
  • Three quarters of employees (74%) believe their employers will educate them about changes to their health care coverage as a result of health care reform. Yet, only 13% of employers say educating employees about health care reform is an important issue for their companies right now.

Workers say they are not ready for changes to the health care system:

  • More than 8-in-10 U.S. workers (83%) believe the medical costs they are responsible for will increase with health care reform, and 7-in-10 U.S. workers (72%) believe their personal health insurance situation will become more confusing with health care reform.
  • Still, more than half (55%) of U.S. workers have done nothing to prepare themselves and their families for possible changes to the health care system.

Health care cost-shifting may have a negative impact on business:

  • 47% of employees say they would feel very or extremely negative towards their employers if their employers significantly increased employees’ portion of health insurance costs.
  • 4-in-5 workers say cost-shifting would have an impact on:
    • Job satisfaction (89%)
    • Willingness to stay with their employer (87%)
    • Willingness to refer a friend to their workplace (87%)

As health care becomes more consumer-driven, many fear they are not ready to take on the responsibility:

  • 2-in-5 U.S. workers (43%) agree that with greater control over health care expenses they will have a difficult time managing their health care coverage decisions, because they already have trouble saving and sticking to a budget today.
  • Half of U.S. workers say:
    • They would prefer not to have more control over their health care expenses, because they do not have the time or knowledge to effectively manage them (54%).
    • With greater control over health care expenses, they may not adequately manage their health insurance coverage, leaving their family less protected than they currently are (53%).

About the study

The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report is the third annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. For a more in-depth look at employers and employees findings on health care reform, see the article--The Uphill Road to Consumer-Driven Health Care. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit

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