The percentage of Americans who currently obtain health insurance coverage through their employers continues to drop, indicating an ongoing trend among benefit plan sponsors and HR decision-makers to shift costs to public and private exchanges.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index states that the percentage of individuals obtaining their health insurance from their current or former employers dropped by two percentage points to 43.14% in 2014’s first quarter. The poll – which tracked nearly 28,000 adults between Jan. 2 and Feb. 28 – notes that 18.1% of Americans obtain their primary health insurance through a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member. This number is up nearly one percentage point since 2013’s fourth quarter.

However, the March 10 report states that the percentage of the national sample without health insurance continues to fall to 15.9%, a nearly 1.2% drop since the end of 2013.

“This drop could be a result of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], which aims to provide health care coverage to more Americans through multiple provisions, including federal and state health care marketplaces where Americans can purchase health insurance coverage at competitive rates,” the study states.

These competitive rates are also influencing employers to act, according to a prior study from Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. Due to an expected 4.4% rise in employer health care costs, 92% expect to institute “moderate to significant changes” to their health programs offering in just four years.

Alternative options for employers include increasing share of account-based health plans and contribution strategies or even placing some active employees on private health insurance exchanges. Also, additional avenues for employers to consider are health and financial subsidies, promoting value in health care options and addressing retiree medical coverage, with two-thirds of employers surveyed in the Towers Watson/NBGH report saying they will push retirees to public exchanges.  

According to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the uninsured rate is likely to continue its decline as the open enrollment period at ACA marketplaces is set to close March 31.

With approximately 4 million having already signed up, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, researchers highlight the health insured rate will hold steady due to President Barack Obama’s administration’s recent call to extend old health insurance policies.

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