Best of 2011: Employee Benefits
Companies continue their battle with rising health-care costs but slow down their preparations to implement the 2010 reform law.
The health-care benefits arena spent much of 2011 on hold, with uncertainty prevailing over how regulations would be written for the reform law that was enacted the previous year.
And with arguments over the law’s constitutionality almost certainly headed for a Supreme Court showdown in 2012, many companies slowed down on preparations for implementing provisions slated to take effect in 2014 or later.
Meanwhile, companies continued their mighty struggle to mitigate the impact of rising health-care costs by raising deductibles, pushing harder for employees to opt for consumer-directed health plans, and providing lower-cost options for health-care delivery.
On the retirement-benefits side, more and more employers looked to fortify perceptions of 401(k) plans as a true benefit. That identity had been damaged in 2009 and 2010 as many company-matching contributions were reduced or suspended. As the end of this year neared, most companies had reinstated the earlier benefit levels.
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