MetLife Study Reveals Employers of All Sizes Closely Following Health Care Reform While Consumers’ Attention is Split along Generational Lines

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Health care legislation continues to be a very hot topic among Americans today. According to new research from MetLife, 75% of individuals and 83% of employers report paying close attention to health care legislation developments. Regardless of company size or whether or not they currently offer medical benefits, eight-in-ten employers say they are on top of the legislation. However, interest is very different among generations as 83% of Baby Boomers and 74% of Generation Y individuals say they are closely following reform developments, compared to 63% of Generation X.

“We have seen a great appetite for information on health care reform”

.As for where they obtain information about health care reform legislation, consumers and businesses alike turn to traditional media outlets. More than eight-in-ten (85%) individuals and 56% of employers cite traditional media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines) as preferred sources. However, more than half (57%) of larger employers (500 or more employees) are also turning to their benefits brokers or consultants for information, more so than to business media (42%), general audience media (37%) or industry publications (32%).

“We have seen a great appetite for information on health care reform,” said Ronald Leopold, MD and vice president, U.S. Business, MetLife. “Our study also reveals a tremendous opportunity for insurance brokers and benefits consultants to help better educate their clients. In turn, well-informed employers will be better positioned to share with their employees the implications of health care reform on their personal situations.”

Current Satisfaction Impacts Attitudes Toward Health Care Reform

Not surprisingly, levels of satisfaction with current medical benefits impact Americans’ attitudes toward health care reform. More than six-in-ten (62%) Americans without any medical insurance feel that health care reform will be “good for America,” contrasted with 42% of those with medical insurance. 65% of Generation Y individuals believe that health care reform will impact them favorably, but only 44% are satisfied with their current medical insurance. On the other hand, while only 34% of Boomers believe that health care reform will have a positive impact on them personally, 63% also say they are satisfied with their current medical coverage.

Attitudes toward health care reform also correspond to health status. According to the MetLife study, 65% of consumers who assess their health as fair or poor say that health care reform will have a positive impact on them and their families, contrasted to 28% for those who say their health is very good or excellent.

Employers’ Next Steps

Three-quarters of employers strongly agree that employees consider health insurance a critical component of a compensation package. Virtually all (96%) also say promoting a culture of health and wellness for employees is important. However, many of today’s employers (41%) aren’t sure what they will do regarding medical benefits should legislation pass. Thirty percent of those that do offer medical coverage expect their health benefits to remain unchanged, while 39% of those employers who do not currently offer medical coverage are not anticipating offering that benefit.

While 36% of employers are unsure about what they will do regarding non-medical benefits like life insurance, disability income protection, and dental benefits should legislation pass, 44% of those that offer these benefits anticipate that they will make no changes to them. Only 5% of employers who offer these benefits say they would consider reducing them.

“Effective communications for diverse audiences is a critical component for the success of health care reform. While there is understandably a reason for a ‘wait and see’ approach by employers as the legislation is debated, communicating to employees that their current benefits are not changing in the short-term can be surprisingly reassuring,” continued Dr. Leopold.

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