Insurance News

Mercer Issues Employer Survey on Health Coverage

Posted on: August 5, 2011

Employers continue to say they plan to keep offering health care coverage to their workers, even after all of the provisions of the federal health care law take effect in 2014, according to a new survey by the benefits consultant Mercer. The new law has already succeeded in modestly expanding coverage, the survey found.

Since the law’s passage a little more than a year ago, enrollment in employers’ health plans climbed by about 2 percent, on average, as a result of the new requirement that companies had to offer coverage to their workers’ dependent children up to age 26, according to the Mercer survey.

The employers say they expect enrollment to increase by another 2 percent in 2014 when they are required to automatically enroll new full-time employees into their plans. Mercer surveyed nearly 900 employers last month.

As my colleague, Milt Freudenheim, recently noted,  the question of what exactly the nation’s businesses will do when faced with the full impact of the law’s provisions has been the subject of much political debate. A report by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, set off significant debate, according to the June article, by finding that nearly a third of employers would definitely or probably drop coverage for their workers when provisions of the law took effect in 2014. The McKinsey report’s methodology was questioned and criticized.

And just last week, the Republican-controlled House took up the question of what effect the law would have on employers in a hearing, “Impact of Obamacare on Job Creators and Their Decision to Offer Health Insurance.”

The Mercer survey found no such employer revolt. Just 2 percent of those surveyed said they were “very likely” to drop coverage, while only 6 percent said they were “likely” to.

“Employers have spent the past year studying the new law and developing strategies to deal with the increased costs and administrative burdens,” said Beth Umland, director of research for health and benefits at Mercer, in the release. “But they don’t seem to have changed their minds about the value of continuing to offer their employees health coverage.”

Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

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