SHRM’s Health Care Reform Survey Finds Some Organizations Adjusting Coverage and Part-Time Employees’ Hours

Employers turning to alternative health care plans for more affordable coverage

Mar 24, 2015
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Some employers are reducing employee hours for part-time workers as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey on health care reform found.

Seventy-two percent of U.S. organizations have not considered reducing employee hours for part-time workers as a result of the ACA mandate that employees working 30 hours a week be offered health care coverage, according to the Health Care Reform Survey — 2015 Update, which was released at SHRM’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference.

But 14 percent of organizations already have reduced hours for part-timers, and another 6 percent plan to do so.

Human resource professionals have responsibility in their organizations for carrying out the requirements of the ACA, making them the most knowledgeable about the impact of health care reform on employers. Today’s survey — released as the landmark legislation marks its fifth anniversary — updates research done in 2013 and 2011.

The survey also found that 91 percent of organizations have not considered reducing employee hours for full-time employees, and 90 percent said they have not considered reducing the overall number of employees as a result of the ACA employer mandate.

“As organizations learned more about the law, they found that their coverage levels were already the same or more than what the law required, minimizing the adjustments that some anticipated employers would need to make when the ACA was created,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs.

The survey also found:

  • Fifty-four percent of employers require employees to work 30 hours a week to be eligible for coverage, an increase from 44 percent in 2014 and 39 percent in 2013. But 26 percent of organizations require employees to work more than 30 hours a week to be eligible. “Some employers actually might choose for economic reasons to take a penalty rather than make this change,” Esen said.

  • Two-thirds of organizations (66 percent) believed their organization offered the same level of health care benefits as before the ACA was enacted.

  • About three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents said that their health care coverage costs increased from 2014 to 2015, and 6 percent saw a decrease.

  • About three out of five organizations have made changes to their health care coverage in the last year.

  • Fifty-four percent offered alternative health care plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts this year, compared to 37 percent in 2013. In addition, 13 percent of respondents said they planned to offer alternatives in the future. “Organizations are going outside of health care plans such as HMOs and PPOs to consider plans and approaches that are affordable while still providing solid coverage,” Esen said.

  • Twenty percent had health plans with grandfathered status in the past but have since dropped the status. Of the organizations that ended their grandfathered status, 19 percent said it would have cost more to keep the status than to change plans. “When health care reform was new, employers tried to keep their grandfathered status,” Esen said. “But now that they understand the law and its implications, employers want to come out from under that umbrella to make changes, especially if these changes lead to lower costs.”

  • More than one-half (53 percent) said they would not be affected by an excise tax on high-cost benefits that takes effect in 2018 or are taking action to avoid the tax.
​The survey polled more than 740 randomly selected HR professionals with a title of manager or above or who work with benefits or compensation. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Media: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and Kate.kennedy@shrm.org or Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 and Vanessa.gray@shrm.org.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.
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