None of the 512 employers that responded to a survey by consulting firm Towers Watson said they are "very likely" to drop insurance coverage for employees in 2014 and direct them to the health insurances exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports.
Three percent of the respondents said the scenario is "somewhat likely," but 77% said they are "not at all likely" to drop the health benefits (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/28). According to the survey, 19% of respondents indicated they are a 2 on a scale of 1-5 of the likelihood that they will discontinue offering the health plans. A response of 1 was "not at all likely" and a 5 was "very likely" (Towers Watson report, August 2012).
The survey polled companies that employ at least 1,000 workers, which makes them liable for a penalty for failing to provide health coverage under the federal health reform law ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/28).
Under the health reform law, employers with 50 or more full-time employees beginning in 2014 must offer affordable and qualifying coverage. If an employer fails to offer the benefits or if even one worker is forced to depend on government subsidies to purchase insurance, the employer must pay a penalty (California Healthline, 8/9).
According to "Wonkblog," employers on average spend $15,073 to cover one employee and the employee's family, which is substantially more than the $2,000 penalty they would have to pay for each employee that does not receive the benefits. However, "it serves their interests" to provide the benefits because they can remain competitive when hiring employees and ensure that they can retain a healthy and productive workforce, "Wonkblog" reports ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/28).
In a separate survey of 440 mid- to- large-sized companies by Towers Watson, 88% of respondents said they do not plan to discontinue health insurance coverage for their full-time workers in the foreseeable future, Insurance Journal reports (Insurance Journal, 8/28).
Eleven percent of the companies said they are unsure and just 1% said they would drop coverage for some employees (Geisel, Modern Healthcare, 8/27).
About 66% of the employers cited the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ACA as a factor in their overall health strategy, while about one-third said they are waiting until the November election is over or the insurance exchanges have been implemented before making any alterations to their health care plans. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they are not confident that the exchanges will be a viable alternative for employees by 2015 (Insurance Journal, 8/28).