Small and large employers say they have no plans to reduce spending on non-medical benefits in light of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a MetLife poll.

The survey found that only one in 10 employers with fewer than 500 employees, and two in 10 with 500 or more workers, anticipate reducing spending on benefits like disability, life and dental insurance as a result of the health law.

In fact, 43% of employers feel strongly that offering non-medical benefits will become a more important strategy for their companies over the next five years.

"This is good news for workers, since the poll also found that health care reform has increased the importance of non-medical benefits to them," says Dr. Ronald Leopold, vice president and national medical director, U.S. Business, MetLife.

"The poll found that 71% of employees who say they have a good understanding of health care reform also say that their non-medical benefits are very important in driving their feelings of employer loyalty, compared to only 57% of employees who admit they don’t have a good understanding of the legislation," he adds.

MetLife interviewed 1,508 benefits decision-makers and 1,412 full-time employees age 21 and over. The poll was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2010.

In addition, the poll findings found that while many small employers are not sure about their next action steps, larger employers are considering changes to their health plan design and increasing their cost-sharing arrangements with employees.

For example, 39% of employers with 500 or more employees are considering plan design changes, and 40% are considering increasing cost sharing. For small employers (fewer than 50 employees) the corresponding numbers were 22% and 24%; for mid-sized employers (between 50 and 500 employees) the numbers were 28% and 28%.

Larger employers are also planning to focus more on wellness and disease management programs as a result of health care reform, the MetLife poll found.

While 11% of employers with fewer than 500 employees say they will put greater emphasis on these programs, the percentage more than doubles, to 27%, for employers with 500 or more employees.

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