SURVEY SAYS: Will Your Employer Be a 'Fast Second'?

October 28, 2010 ( - There’s a lot of buzz about an Associated Press report this week titled “Employers looking at health insurance options.”

In that article, the following quote appears:  “I don’t think you are going to hear anybody publicly say ‘We’ve made a decision to drop insurance,’ ” said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. “What we are hearing in our meetings is, ‘We don’t want to be the first one to drop benefits, but we would be the fast second.’   

This week, I asked readers if their company be a “fast second” to drop health benefits if some other firm(s) started that ball rolling?   

There was a fair amount of concern expressed in the verbatim (more on that in a minute), but based on the responses, there won’t be a rush to the exits when it comes to health care benefits.   

Just over half (51.0%) said they wouldn’t be in that “fast second” category, and another quarter (25.7%) said it was “doubtful” that they would. 

On the other hand (albeit in the minority) were the readers who said: 

  • Probably – 9.5% 
  • Definitely – 4.3% 
  • Yes – 1% 

And then, the remaining 8.6% were “not sure.” 

And then, there were the verbatims I spoke of earlier… 


I don't believe our government should be directing us on health care until they can propose a plan in which they want to participate. 

"While I like my employer, I bet that in a heartbeat they'd drop coverage.  The bean counters run the show, and I guarantee you that they'd come up with some elaborate message around it, but in the end, they'd drop the benefits ""for competitive reasons.""   


I sure do hope a new congress, in the hands of the Republicans, works to defund ObamaCare of repeal it all together." 

Slow n' steady. Steady n' slow. That's the way we always go. 

Comments like "being a fast second" are an overreaction to hype. Really, what will create negative cost impact to employers? Very little. 

I highly doubt that our industry (law) would be among the first, second, third or fourth to drop health care entirely.  

Something needed to be done, but what they did will only anger people, drive prices up and make it more difficult for all parties involved.  What about transparency with health care prices?  What about choices of where to get your services?  What about competition amongst the providers instead of just following what the doctor says.  What about patient advocacy to help them through the maze of impossible questions with no answers? 

We can't make this important a decision based on a guess as to what health care reform will look like three years from now.  However, IF nothing changes between now and then, based on what we know now, we will have give it careful consideration.  And, IF the predictions on what impact the exchanges will have on the delivery of health care coverage within the 3-5 year period after they become effective come true, we may have no alternative but to eliminate company-provided health care plans...which is what I believe the politicos in power today planned to have happen as a result of the law's step towards a single payor system. 

My employer sells group life and health insurance.  My husband's employer would drop health benefits "in a New York minute".  Both employers are very small (15 to 20 employees). 

The fast seconds will be the companies that employ a lot of unskilled labor because there is a huge pool of potential employees that can replace workers that quit if their health benefits are dropped.  My firm depends on employment of mostly skilled employees and professionals.  If we dropped health benefits our employees would leave in droves for other employers providing the benefits and we would have a tough time replacing them. 

Please vote for politicians who will stop Obamacare! 


We desperately need more reform.  I don't understand how anyone can be happy with placing health care decisions in the hands of a profit driven entity.  I believe that our current system is morally bankrupt.  Civilized societies take care of their citizens. 

We have a self-insured VEBA trust with lots of small employers with lower-income workers who will be strongly incented to participate in the health exchanges in 2014; the future of our denominational health plan is murky at best. 

We'd be the slow 99th to drop health benefits 

Dropping health insurance would put us at a competitive disadvantage in our industry.  I think a lot of benefit managers are big talkers here.  While they may have visions of bowing out when exchanges go live, competitive realities will prevent them from doing so initially.  Not until exchanges are mature and have been proven successful will employers (especially large ones) start dropping coverage en masse. 

We pride ourselves on our benefit package.  We would be unable to get the top candidates we need without a top notch health package.  We would love to see some of our competitors take the "fast second" route. 

We pride ourselves on the outstanding benefits we offer our 10,000+ employees, and consider them one of the things that make us an employer of choice.  I know one can never say 'never,' but if we were to drop benefits, I'd be expecting a certain subterranean geographic area to freeze over! 

As said by many, we needed a change, but not convinced this was the right change.  I would like to see a repeal. 

"Rhetoric has overcome reason.  We need a serious dialogue on reform - the status quo is clearly dysfunctional.  However, the opposition (led by extremely profitable but secretive providers) has, so far, succeeded in precluding serious discussion by spurring immediate gut reactions. 

This strategy can't work forever. If not this time or next, reform will get here." 

The fact that so many politicians are using health care reform as something to campaign against is very telling.  The American public is, very rightfully so, worried about what this really means.  The idea was right, everyone should have health care, but the execution and strong-handed tactics are not right.  If we can come out of this then great but I'm very worried that we won't. 

The numbers say be a fast second because the penalty fee would less than cost of offering coverage.  But penalty won't be enough for the government to cover costs.  So the penalty fee of $3000 will skyrocket. 

"Absolutely not!  This whole crying of the sky falling is IMHO highly overblown.  We will become more innovative, finding ways to prevent catastrophic illnesses from bankrupting our personnel.  The politicization of this subject is embarrassing, and makes the US looking selfish or worse in the eyes of the world.  The politicians refuse to institute the obvious fixes immediately such as compulsory coverage and community rating as there is no benefit to them and is opposed by the lobbyists to whom they are beholden.  Without these two scenarios, no health reform is possible.  With them, 90% of the problems are solved, and FICA on all earned income would take care of the other 10% while soving the social security and Medicare problems.  Do the numbers; it will work! 

If everyone else did it, we might in order to stay competitive, but for now, we believe our great benefits package gives us a strong competitive advantage, even against the larger players. 

"Having to take on additional dependents (potentially almost 1000 people) is an added cost no matter how you try to say that this group traditionally does not cost much. It is still added risk.  In addition, the removal of lifetime maximums will affect our costs, not to mention that we believe people should share in their health care costs even if it is a little bit and our copays are very low.  I shudder to think of what's next in terms of increased admin costs, health care costs and so on.  And did these changes reach the right targets - hard to say at this time.   

I know that our costs will be impacted negatively and our admin costs just trying to keep up, seek legal counsel when necessary, etc. have definitely increased." 

My answer was Probably, but a more accurate answer would have been a "slow third".  In other words, once a few other major employers made this announcement, especially if one of them was within our own industry, our CFO would want to do it too, if it saved us money, but it wouldn't be as quickly as a "fast second".  

And this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who observed, “So, the new byword would be "Our employees are our least valuable asset", how about yours??”  

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!