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Survey: Most Employers Stick With Lifetime Benefits Maximums

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Few large U.S. employers are acting early to remove caps on health plan reimbursement totals.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Brookfield, Wis., has reported that finding in a summary of results from a May survey of 1,021 individuals representing single-employer U.S. benefit plans. Some participants work for small employers, but a majority are at employers with more than 50 employees.

The new Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, will be requiring employers to eliminate lifetime health benefits maximums in 2011 and sharply restrict use of annual maximums. ACA provisions will ban use of annual maximums starting in 2014.

Only 4% of the survey participants said the employers they represent will remove the lifetime maximums or annual maximums before they are required to do so, and 86% said they will wait until they are required to eliminate lifetime maximums until they must.

About 84% said they are not changing annual maximums until required to do so.

Other ACA provisions are set to impose a “Cadillac plan” excise tax on “high cost” health benefits packages starting in 2018.

About 48% of the survey participants said their employers will be redesigning plans to avoid trigger the Cadillac plan tax.

But 87% of the individuals said their employers will “continue to offer health care benefits, because they are critical to employee recruitment, retention and remaining competitive,” the benefits plan foundation says.


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