PPACA uncertainty concerns carriers most

Though carriers remain uncertain about the emerging health care landscape and what the health reform law will mean for them, they’re sure about one thing: the uncertainty worries them.

Of the 30 worksite executives who participated in a new Eastbridge report, three-fourths selected “uncertainty over the future of health care” as the first, second or third most formidable obstacle facing their business today.

It’s the first time in the last few years that uncertainty topped “product competition” and “attracting quality brokers” as the biggest obstacle in the past two studies.

“Like their employer clients, carriers are being forced to look for ways to best navigate the impact of health care reform on their business,” the Eastbridge report said.

Most respondents (80 percent) said they expect to see an impact on the way they do business due to legislative or regulatory changes related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and an overall tightening of government oversight.

And more than ever (27 percent vs. 15 percent in 2011) expect these changes to be “major.”

Moody’s Investor Services said earlier this month that PPACA’s latest delays and recent regulatory moves have been a “credit negative” for carriers, and warned that more changes to the law’s rollout, which they say are now expected, will further negative implications for carriers.

But in spite of the concerns over PPACA, executives are optimistic about one thing: the worksite/voluntary industry’s potential for new sales growth over the next five years.

Eastbridge found that the average expected growth rate was around 9 percent for the industry and a little less than 15 percent for their own companies. This was up from 7 percent and 13 percent respectively in 2011.

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