The majority (56%) of employers say they are likely to continue to offer employer-sponsored health insurance after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act largely goes into effect in 2014, according to a new survey conducted by GfK Custom Research North America.

Meanwhile, only 12% of benefits decision-makers say they would be very or somewhat likely to drop coverage while another 32% of the 502 private-sector companies surveyed are not quite sure what they will do.

Only 4% of respondents, specifically from large companies, are considering terminating coverage completely. In addition, decision-makers who say they are familiar with health care reform are less likely to foresee dropping coverage (7% versus 15% among those not familiar).

"This survey suggests that firms aren't considering a wholesale flight from employee health care coverage as health care reform is implemented," says Tim Nanneman, vice president and director of Health Insurance Research. "However, many employers are skeptical about the potential effects of health care reform.”

Even though most respondents are committed to continuing coverage for the future, many worry that PPACA provisions will either fail to slow the increase in health care costs or will make cost trends worse.

Of the respondents only 11% believe costs of health benefits will increase more slowly than if no reform had passed, while 51% think that costs will increase more rapidly. Many remain uncertain about the impact of the reform, with 38% not sure about the effect on costs in the future. 

To off set the increase in rising health care benefits like numerous other plan sponsors, respondents say they have increased premium costs, co-pays and deductibles for employees and their dependents.

"It seems that, while the social contract between employers and employees remains secure for the time being, there are signs that it is weakening among some employers. This suggests that as health insurance exchanges become operational, for example, some employers will be receptive to having their employees get insurance via this new option rather than with traditional employer-sponsored insurance," says Nanneman.

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