Opinion

Another Y2K scare?

This is beginning to feel like the Y2K scare.

After all of the hand-wringing, finger-pointing, accusations and the high anxiety, the International Foundation of Employee Plans put out a survey a couple of weeks back that puts things into proper perspective and should calm nerves.

According to its research, 94 percent of all organizations questioned said they’re likely to keep offering health care coverage to their employees come Jan. 1.

That’s the date when we all begin to feel the full effects of Obamacare and when, if some of the more excitable forecasters were to be believed, the United States was going to turn into a nation of uninsured part-timers able to obtain coverage only through a government exchange and only thanks to subsidies that will bury us under further debt.

Common sense should have told us all along that our best strategy was to start breathing, slowly, perhaps into a brown paper bag.

Look, I’m not trying to minimize what I know a lot of HR managers have been going through, especially over the past few months. There’s no doubt part-timers have lost hours, if not jobs.

And we all agree the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has more than its share of flaws.

But let’s step back and remember that a) the vast majority of companies with more than 50 employees already offer their workers health coverage and b) no corporation with any hope of attracting the sort of talent it needs to stay competitive will suddenly shut off the benefits spigot.

Yes, concern about this point was certainly appropriate at some point. But the foundation said it found that 69 percent of its respondents say they will “definitely” offer coverage — up from 46 percent when it conducted the same survey a year ago — and the other 25 percent said it was “very likely.”

Less than 1 percent of those surveyed plan to stop offering coverage, and among those, two-thirds are “somewhat likely” to offer a subsidy so workers can buy coverage via an exchange.

It’s not as if they had much choice, but the study also said that 90 percent of all employers have moved beyond a “wait and see mode” and are moving forward with implementation.

Will things be perfect for American workers or their employers? Hardly. Forty-three percent of the 966 respondents said they either have or plan to increase employees’ share of the premiums paid. One in four plan to increase their emphasis on higher deductible plans and health-savings accounts, while 14 percent more are looking into the possibility.

But that’s a far, far cry from the collapse of civilization some would have us believe was coming.

About the Author
Allen Greenberg

Allen Greenberg

Allen Greenberg is the retirement industry news editor at BenefitsPro.com. Follow him via Twitter @AllenGreenberg. Email him at agreenberg@benefitspro.com or call 720-895-3965.


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