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One out of 10 employees in US predicted to lose healthcare coverage

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, employer health plan, cancellation

The Affordable Care Act and its ramifications are currently a hot button topic. A survey released on July 24 by the consulting company Deloitte provides a forecast of changes likely to occur in employee health plans. A big question about the new healthcare law is whether companies will continue to offer coverage after a host of changes starting in 2014 will give Americans more options for buying coverage without the help of an employer.

Deloitte notes that US employers are concerned about the continued increase of healthcare costs; however, they are unaware of solutions that could improve the safety and quality of care, and simultaneously reduce cost. The new survey predicts that while employer-sponsored health benefits are not likely to disappear, changes that shift financial risk to employees are certain. Deloitte predicts that approximately one in 10 employers in the US plans to drop health coverage for workers in the next few years as the bulk of the federal healthcare law begins; furthermore, more employers indicated they may do so over time.

The majority of Americans under age 65 who have health insurance receive it from their employer. Most companies currently offer coverage on a voluntary basis because they feel it helps them recruit and retain workers. Critics of the overhaul argue that it could encourage companies to drop those plans if they become more expensive because the new healthcare law requires them to provide a set level of benefits or pay a penalty.

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The survey explores employers’ opinions about the US healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act, and anticipated strategies for employee health benefits coverage and cost containment. Participants included C-suite executives (highest level executives) and human resource professionals. Deloitte surveyed employers with 50 or more employees that offered health benefits.

Some of the key findings:
Employers believe that the US healthcare system underperforms; 35% of employers surveyed grade system performance as an “A” or a “B.” However, 64% give it a “C,” “D,” or “F.” Employers hold favorable views about the system’s clinical capabilities and medical innovation; unfavorable views center on its wastefulness and high costs.
Employers believe that they have a “good” understanding of the Affordable Care Act; Human resources professionals more so than C-suite executives. Familiarity with the individual mandate is the highest (72%); understanding of delivery system changes in the Affordable Care Act is low. Most employers say their company is “not well prepared” to implement the 2014 provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Approximately 30% of respondents think the Affordable Care Act is “a good start;” 59% claim that it is “a step in the wrong direction.” There was a wide range of opinions reported, from human resources professionals who responded more positively to C-suite respondents who think it is a step in the wrong direction.
To manage healthcare costs, increased cost-sharing with employees is considered the optimal strategy. Health insurances exchanges and direct contracting with provider organizations are viable benefits strategies, as well.
When considering healthcare related strategies to reduce the deficit, employers support reforms in medical liability, Medicare and Medicaid, and repeal/delay of the Affordable Care Act. Across-the-board cuts in government spending are considered a higher priority than changes to the health care system.

The complete survey is available at this link.

See also: Help is available for finding the best health insurance plan