The 2010 Affordable Care Act may end up being a boon for retirement benefits, according to a new study.
The Affordable Care Act has made it easier for workers to get health-care coverage, which has allowed employers to devote more resources to retirement benefits, according to a recent study from Nationwide.
In its 2016 small business owner 401(k) survey, Nationwide found that its respondents were beginning to view retirement benefits as one of the best ways to attract and retain employees.
Almost three out of five respondents, 58 percent, said they intend to increase employer contributions to their workplace retirement plans. Of those, 29 percent said that they are doing so because the Affordable Care Act has made health benefits a lower priority to their employees.
Nationwide believes the Affordable Care Act has commoditized health insurance coverage as more business owners are now able to offer workplace health benefits at a lower cost, and more Americans are able to access alternatives outside of the workplace through health insurance marketplaces.
“The changing health-care marketplace has created an opportunity for business owners to increase investment in retirement benefits offered to employees,” says John Carter, president of Nationwide’s retirement plans business, in a released statement. “Business owners who help their employees prepare for retirement can differentiate their business as a destination for top talent and a place where valuable workers want to stay.”
Another 43 percent of business owners who intend to increase their plan’s contributions said they are doing so because their retirement plan is more important for attracting and retaining employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
At the same time, only one in five of current small business owners who don’t have offer a 401(k) plan say they will offer one in the future. Of that number, 23 percent said it was because a 401(k) plan is now more important for attracting and retaining employees than health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.
Across the entire survey, 86 percent of respondents said that America’s workers are facing a retirement readiness crisis, which Nationwide calls “significant” because small businesses make up more than 99 percent of American employers and employ nearly 50 percent of all private-sector workers.
Yet Nationwide found that small employers’ mistaken assumptions about workplace retirement plans still present a barrier to entry. According to the study, owners tend to think small business 401(k) plans are too expensive to offer, difficult to shop for and stand at a major disadvantage to larger employers’ plans—none of which is true, Nationwide says.