Much has been written and discussed about the impact of health care reform on businesses and organizations across the United States. However, far less has been said about what U.S. workers anticipate with regard to health care legislation, in what ways it may influence their daily lives or financial future, and to what degree they are preparing for such changes.
A recent landmark research initiative conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac sheds valuable light on the attitudes, fears, and expectations of workers when it comes to health care reform. As employers consider what changes they will make to their health insurance plans with legislation, these top concerns among workers should also factor heavily into every organization’s actions and implementation.
Concern: It’s Too Complicated to Understand.
According to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, over half (51%) of workers agree strongly or somewhat that health care reform is too complicated to understand.
Concern: We Need More Information.
Health care reform has made the insurance market even more complex, and employees are already concerned, and seeking greater clarity and advice from their employers. In fact, more than one-third (38%) of workers say they believe their employer will educate them about changes to their health care coverage as a result of health care reform. However, only 12 percent of employers agree that educating employees about health care reform is an important issue in their organization right now.
Concern: What Will Be the Impact?
Workers are wondering how health care reform will impact them. Compared to responses from the 2011 Aflac study, the number of employees who say the impact of health care reform will have no impact has doubled, with 46 percent of workers saying the impact will be neutral (compared to 20% in 2011). The remaining employees are feeling more positively about the reform. In fact, only 23 percent say the impact will be negative — a 9 percent drop from responses in the 2011 report.
Still, many employees indicate they believe health care reform will affect the scope of their health care coverage. Nearly half of employees (49%) agree that the number of services covered by health care will decrease as a result of health care reform.
Concern: We’re Not Adequately Prepared for Changes to the Health Care System.
The reality is that many companies are already shifting a greater share of health care premiums and deductibles to their workers. Yet, only 22 percent of workers are saving money for potential increases in medical expenses. Most workers (60%) say they are doing nothing to prepare for possible changes to the health care system, with only 13 percent talking to their employer/HR department to learn about their options.
Concern: Our Employers Aren’t Taking Care of Us.
Another side effect of shifting health care costs to workers is a change in how workers perceive their employers, particularly given workers’ sentiments about who should cover additional costs. The study found that 47 percent of workers would feel more negatively about their employer if they shifted an increasing portion of health insurance costs to them, because they feel their company could cover more of the costs.
In light of the many concerns among U.S. workers about changes to the health care system, organizations must invest in the resources and time to clearly understand the anxieties and needs of their workforce. With these basics addressed, employees will be more satisfied with their benefits package and will have greater peace of mind knowing they are adequately protected.
Finally, with a more clear view of the knowledge gaps that exist, HR executives can better address communication needs and find ways to make benefits information and options more easily understood and accessible.
The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted January 24–February 23, 2012, by Research Now on behalf of Aflac.