Employers stay the course, skirt the law on health coverage

Many employers are continuing to offer health insurance to their employees rather than sending them to shop for their own coverage on HealthCare.gov, NJ Biz reported.

John Bucsek, managing director at MetLife Solutions Group, which advises roughly 3,000 New Jersey employers on health plans for workers, told NJ Biz he's seen few situations in which employers choose to drop their health benefits and allow employees to go to the federal exchange--even though they could save thousands of dollars per employee.

However, private health insurance exchanges have been garnering more interest from employers, with 45 of 723 self-insured and fully-insured employers polled in November saying they'll consider using or use a private health insurance exchange before 2018 for their full-time employees, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Private exchange providers have focused much of their efforts on educating employers, according to a June 21013 report by Accenture.

To offset rising health insurance costs without dropping health benefits, employers are redesigning their health plans by raising deductibles and co-pays rather than switching health insurance carriers, NJ Biz noted. The Healthcare Trends Institute found more than half of employers say health benefits offerings are "very important" for employee recruitment and retention, boosting employee morale and satisfaction, and reducing absenteeism and improving productivity.

But when it comes to municipal employers, some are not staying course with the employer mandate looming. For example, Oxford Hills, Maine, just voted to make 29 1/2 hours the maximum number of hours a part-time employee may work each week to skirt around the federal requirement that employers of 50 people or more provide health insurance to everyone working 30 hours, the Oxford Hills Sun Journal reported.

To learn more:
- read the NJ Biz article
- here's the Sun Journal article