Health care costs top CFO concerns

While employee benefits managers worry over health packages in the light of Obamacare, just down the hall, CFOs fret over how to pay for those same benefits.

For the third year in a row, healthcare costs were at the top of CFOs' list of major concerns, according to the BofA Merrill Lynch 2013 CFO Outlook. A research firm interviewed 602 CFOs to obtain the data.

The CFOs generally were less worried about most major issues they face day in and day out. Unemployment, consumer confidence, the deficit, European financial concerns — all these and more were less worrisome to CFOs this time than in the year earlier survey. Yet the impact of healthcare costs on their corporations actually rose a couple percentage points in 2013 v. 2012.

The smaller the company, the higher the anxiety over healthcare costs, the survey found. “Small companies with sales between $25 million and $74 million are more concerned about nearly all key economic issues than other segments, particularly healthcare costs (66 percent),” the report said. Overall, 62 percent of respondents listed healthcare as a major concern.

Most CFOs — 72 percent — expect to pay more for labor in this year. Last year, 58 percent thought the cost of labor would be going up. The report opines that concern over healthcare costs may have played a role in their responses. Just 3 percent of respondents thought their labor costs would drop.

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