Something my mother always reassured me of was that things will get done, little by little. It was very a comforting thing to say when life’s stresses started to pile up.
For HR pros, things are starting to pile up. And little by little, they’ll have to confront the administrative and financial burdens of providing health coverage. It’s a commitment many employers are making even as we’re a mere 18 months from the most crucial health care reform regulations.
I'm reminded of where we were just a year ago. Last June, McKinsey made waves with a survey that found around 30 percent of employers were going to drop health insurance because it could be cheaper than keeping up with rising health insurance costs, and it would be better economics for them to pay the employer penalty.
Where are we now? We’re still in murky waters, although perhaps not as dramatic as McKinsey made it sound. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman found only 8 percent of employers plan to drop coverage, which just about corresponds with IFEBP’s new poll that dropped shortly after the SCOTUS ruling.
No surprise the organizations that say they definitely won’t be providing coverage after 2014 are the ones with 50 or fewer employees. Almost 6 percent of them are confident at this point they won’t be offering employer-sponsored insurance.
Even with the year-and-a-half timeline, that number is likely to fluctuate, though slightly. And in all likelihood, the exchange dates will be pushed back, if they even survive in some form after the election. Some states won’t budge on going “forward,” to quote the president’s key slogan. They're willing to stay on that fence until November, even though, an Aetna executive assured SHRM conference goers last week, contracts are being written up with or without state cooperation.
When election day finally does come, more than 17 percent of uninsured Americans will have to gamble with their ballots in hand. Their bet is as good as any that health care premiums might finally trend downward without employer subsidies if they decide to keep Obama in office.
As for benefits managers, they don't like to leave things to chance. Perhaps that's why almost 80 percent of them kept up with ACA regulations, according to IFEBP.
While 2011 was the year of sweeping change, 2012 brought on a few more reform headaches (why did we need an SBC?). Looking ahead, 2013 should be a blueprint year.