As the Affordable Care Act last week celebrated its five-year anniversary, the majority of employers say they have not considered reducing hours for part-time employees as a result of the law’s mandate that employees working 30 hours a week be offered health care coverage.

In response to ACA requirements, nearly 20% of U.S. employers have either reduced hours for employees they consider to be part-time or plan to do so, while 79% have not, according to new research from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The ACA has also seemed to have little impact on full-time workers across the country, with 91% saying they have not considered reducing employee hours for full-time employees, and another 90% saying they have not considered reducing the overall number of employees as a result of the ACA employer mandate, according to SHRM’s Health Care Reform Survey — 2015 Update.

Also see: House passes bill to amend ACA definition of full-time employee

In addition, a little more than half, 54%, of employers require employees to work 30 hours a week to be eligible for coverage, a 10% jump from the previous year.

However, “some employers actually might choose for economic reasons to take a penalty rather than make this change,” says Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey program. According to the study, 26% of employers require employees to work more than 30 hours a week to be eligible for health care benefits. 

And while some employers have tweaked the number of hours their part-time employees are working, a greater share of employers (60%) say they have made changes in the past year to their offered health coverage.

“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,” says Esen.

In fact, two-thirds of employers surveyed believe their organization offered the same level of health care benefits as before the ACA was enacted.

Also see: Cadillac tax, wellness program clarity top employer priorities

However, the ACA hasn’t been a complete bed of roses for employers. A good chunk (77%) say they’ve seen some of their health care costs rise and only 6% noted any decreases in costs between 2014 and 2015.

Additionally, one-fifth of employers have lost their grandfathered health plan status, the report notes. Of those, however, only 19% say it would cost more to keep their current status than to change plans.

“When health care reform was new, employers tried to keep their grandfathered status,” Esen says. “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.”

And as the ACA continues to trudge along and evolve on the legislative and judicial stages, employers are looking ahead and making changes now.

Also see: How King v. Burwell could shake out for employers

“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 adds. Over half (54%) offered alternative health care plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts this year, compared to 37% last year. Additionally, 13% said they planned to offer those types of alternatives in the future.

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