While grandfathered health plans are allowed to make small tweaks in benefits and costs, they cannot change insurance carriers, slash coverage, hike co-payments or shrink the employer's share of the premium.
"Let's say the employer pays 70 percent of the cost of the plan and the employee pays 30 percent," Rosenberg explained. "The employer may reduce its share by up to 5 percent. But beyond that, they're not allowed."
However, survey results released last month suggest that employers don't want to be hemmed in by those limits. Ninety percent of U.S. companies expect to lose their grandfathered status by 2014 -- a majority in the next two years, according to the benefits consulting firm Hewitt Associates.
"Whether or not you're going to see a cost increase and the extent to which you will have a cost increase will depend on what your coverage was before health-care reform," added Chantel Sheaks, a principal with the benefits consulting firm Buck Consultants in Washington, D.C. While people in more generous health plans may experience less of an increase, "everyone will be paying for this," she said.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has more on employer-sponsored health insurance.
To read the first part of the series click here.
To read the second part of the series click here.
SOURCES: Ronald Bachman, president and CEO, Healthcare Visions, Atlanta; Bill Rosenberg, director, global human resource solutions group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York City; Chantel Sheaks, J.D., principal, Buck Consultants, Washington, D.C.; National Business Group on Health, Aug. 18, 2010, news release and
All rights reserved