In addition to an individual market strategy, Aon Hewitt's survey shows that employers are currently pursuing two other general retiree health care strategies in response to provisions under the PPACA:
Medicare Part D Strategies
Prompted by the elimination of the tax-favored status of the Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) under the PPACA, a majority of employers (61 percent) expect to change either their Medicare Part D or broader strategy for Medicare-eligible retirees. Of those plan sponsors, 17 percent made changes in 2011 or 2012, another 11 percent will make changes for 2013, and nearly three quarters (72 percent) are currently exploring what actions to take and when.
Of the employers who have already decided to make changes to their retiree drug program, 62 percent are moving forward with a group-based Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP/EGWP). Thirty-two percent are leveraging the individual Medicare-eligible health insurance market in some manner.
"Changes to the tax-favored status of the RDS, in conjunction with improvements to the Medicare Part D program over time, are driving significant change in the employer-sponsored retiree health care market," explained Grosso. "These enhancements allow for cost savings for both plan sponsors and retirees, while still preserving retiree benefits."
Excise Tax Mitigation Strategies
To mitigate the cost of the excise tax on high-cost health plans in 2018, Aon Hewitt's research shows that 29 percent of plan sponsors anticipate changing plan features such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Twenty-two percent would favor sourcing coverage through the state exchanges, and 18 percent favor changing retiree premium cost-sharing in some manner.
While most employers anticipate needing to manage excise tax exposure over time, 69 percent do not anticipate announcing or implementing actions in the near-term. Only 12 percent did so before to 2012.
"Even though the excise tax is not scheduled to take effect until 2018, plan sponsors must reflect any anticipated excise tax exposure on their current financial statements," said
, retirement actuary at Aon Hewitt. "Some employers have already made changes to their retiree strategy to limit this impact, but others with higher cost plans should, at a minimum, evaluate how they can preserve the tax efficiency of their program on behalf of both the plan sponsor and participating retirees."
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