CHA News Article

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey
Findings reveal employer-sponsored family health premiums rise 3 percent in 2014

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)/Health Research & Educational Trust has released its annual survey of employers, offering a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions and employer opinions. The 2014 survey included almost 3,000 interviews with non-federal public and private firms and reflects employer-sponsored health benefits in 2014.

The 2014 survey found considerable stability among employer-sponsored plans. According to the report, the relatively quiet period in 2014 may give way to bigger changes in 2015 as the employer shared-responsibility provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes effect for large employers. The continued implementation of major reforms in the non-group market also may affect employer strategies going forward. The report acknowledges that employer-sponsored coverage also will continue to evolve for reasons not related to the ACA — for example, as employers and insurers continue to develop more integrated approaches to assessing individuals’ personal health risks and offering programs to address them. Finally, the continuing improvement in the economy is likely to put new cost pressure on employers and insurers.

Key survey findings include:

  • A modest increase in the average premiums for family coverage (3 percent).
  • Single-coverage premiums are 2 percent higher than in 2013, which is not statistically significant according to the report. Covered workers generally have similar premium contributions and cost-sharing requirements in 2014 as they did in 2013.
  • The percentage of firms (55 percent) that offer health benefits to at least some of their employees and the percentage of workers covered at those firms (62 percent) also are statistically unchanged from 2013.

The percentage of covered workers enrolled in grandfathered health plans – plans exempt from many provisions of the ACA – declined to 26 percent of covered workers, from 36 percent in 2013. The average length of the waiting period decreased, and the percentage with an out-of-pocket limit increased, the report notes, perhaps in response to new provisions of the ACA.

Although employers continue to offer coverage to spouses, dependents and domestic partners, some employers are instituting incentives to influence workers’ enrollment decisions, including 9 percent of employers who attach restrictions for spouses’ eligibility if they are offered coverage at another source, and 9 percent of firms that provide additional compensation if employees do not enroll in health benefits.

Both a summary of the findings and the full report are attached.