An online nationwide survey of 3,700 business executives conducted by Crain Communications publications, Workforce Management and Business Insurance, in April 2010 indicates most U.S. employers are unlikely to stop offering health care benefits in the wake of federal health care reform law. Previously, some medical tourism pundits have suggested that rising healthcare costs will mean many US employers will drop health insurance.
Health insurance in the US is far from perfect, but as most large and medium sized companies buy via professional insurance intermediaries, the effect on the corporate market is of interest to the insurance world.
This survey for a leading insurance magazine refutes the suggestion that US companies are contemplating dropping health insurance, or will actually do so.
In the survey, 52.5% strongly disagreed with the statement that it would be better for their organizations to stop offering health care benefits and pay a fine under the new law. Another 15.3% somewhat disagreed with the notion of dropping coverage and paying the fine.18 % might look at the idea of dropping coverage; but only 14.1% strongly believe their organizations would be better off in dropping benefits.
Under the health care reform law, beginning in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time workers must offer health care coverage or pay a fine of $2,000 per full-time worker per year. Among the largest employers—those with 25,000 or more workers—64.9% strongly disagreed with the statement that their organizations would be better off dropping health care benefits. Another 12.4% somewhat disagreed; 14.2% somewhat agreed and 8.4% strongly agreed.
It is not as simple as a yes or no to health insurance. The health reform law includes provisions intended to boost employer-provided wellness programs and make them a more widespread way to help increase the overall health of the population. They are intended to encourage employers to offer wellness programs, provide employers with support in doing so and make it possible for them to offer employees a financial incentive to participate in programmes that promote greater health and healthier lifestyles.
The law makes federal grants available to small businesses to enable them to provide employees access to comprehensive workplace wellness programs. These programs include: health awareness initiatives, such as health education, screenings and health risk assessments; initiatives to change unhealthy behavior, such as counseling, seminars, online programs and self-help materials; and supportive environment efforts, such as workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity and improved mental health.