Employers Say Health Care Reform Won't Improve Costs

March 16, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A recent survey finds employers generally support health care reform efforts, but have little faith the current effort will improve costs.

More than half (52.3%) of the 1,510 employers surveyed by United Benefit Advisors (UBA) said they think if a comprehensive health reform bill is passed, health care costs will increase at a much higher trend rate than currently. About 20% each said health care costs would increase at the same trend rate or at a lower trend rate.      

Forty-two percent of employers said that if health reform is passed that requires a minimum contribution beyond what they currently contribute to employees’ health benefits, they would be forced to reduce coverage and eligibility to match their current premium contributions. The same number said they would increase contributions to the required level and make other changes to compensate, while 12% said they would eliminate other benefits, such as dental, vision, or disability, to offset the additional cost.      

Almost three-in-ten (28.7%) indicated they would have to reduce contributions to their retirement plans to offset the additional cost of health care.      

The Supplement to UBA’s 2010 Employer Opinion Survey found nearly 70% of employers support mandated quality and price reporting by all medical providers (physicians, hospitals, and outpatient services). The survey also found broad support for no pre-existing condition limitations (71.7%), required wellness programs (54.2%), immediate coverage for all new hires (46%), and co-op/exchange plans provided through the private sector to employers with 50 or fewer employees (45%).       

What employers do not support in health reform, according to the survey results, is an immediate mandate for coverage with or without tax penalties for non-participation (52%). Sixty-four percent of employers indicated they would not support taxing health care benefits above a certain threshold.     

More than four-in-ten employers said they need more information about mandated employer-provided health care coverage before choosing a position.      

Full results of the UBA 2010 Employer Opinion Survey will be released in April.