Scare tactics continue

A new survey was released this week about how medium and large businesses will deal with employee health insurance in 2014 when the Affordable Care Act really kicks in.  Here was the kind of headline that appeared across the country.

Survey: 1 in 10 employers expects to drop health coverage

All the ACA haters are out there shoving the headline in their constitutents’ faces saying, “See, I told you Obamacare is bad.” 

Fortunately, some reporters like The State’s Kristy Eppley Rupon actually got other opinion and analysis for their stories.  She included my input.

But Frank Knapp, chief executive officer of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said the surveys are “scare tactics” meant to get politicians to reconsider the Affordable Care Act.  He said 97 percent of the S.C. employers have fewer than 50 employees and, therefore, are not obligated to offer health insurance. Those that offer insurance do so as a way of competing for labor, he said.  “We are all competing for quality employees,” he said. “One of the ways to do that is to offer a benefit that your competitor doesn’t offer.”

Rupon also got some more impartial expert comment.

Former insurance executive Bob Laszewski said he was surprised that almost one in 10 companies already is planning to drop health coverage. Dropping coverage would expose the companies to potential payroll-tax headaches and fines. It also would result in a steep pay cut for employees if their employers didn’t raise their pay.  “Dropping coverage is going to be very difficult for these (companies) to do,” predicted Laszewski, a consultant who was not involved with the studies.

Rupon concluded her piece with the best caution from the survey authors themselves on how to interpret the survey results.

Towers Watson’s Randall Abbott said the survey results should be seen as a snapshot of how companies are thinking now. They can’t be viewed as a final decision because there are still many unresolved variables.

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