Other businesses plan to increase worker contributions to health care or halt employer-subsidies of dependents.
WASHINGTON – Approximately 20% of retailers will reduce worker hours before the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented next year, according to a just-released survey by Mercer, Congressional Quarterly reports. Around 28% of employers will increase the amount of employee contributions to health coverage for families, while 13% will bump up employee costs for worker-only coverage. An additional 2% will discontinue subsidized coverage for worker dependents.
Around 9% of survey respondents said the Affordable Care Act would add a less than 1% increase to business expenses. A third of those surveyed said employees working 30 hours or more per week currently did not have access to health insurance through the company. Forty-six percent of healthcare services, hospitality and retail industries do not offer worker coverage.
The survey also found that around 12% of businesses said employee hours would be reduced to avoid having to offer insurance. For retailers, that percentage jumped to 20%. Cumberland Farms recently announced it would expand the number of employees eligible for health care at its locations.
Nearly 25% of those surveyed still haven’t figured out how to track employee hours for those with varied schedules, while around 32% “don’t know” whether the new requirements will add to their costs. More than a third of employers have already begun action to evade a tax on expensive plans that will go into effect in five years. Many employers are looking into expanding or adding wellness programs to help workers improve their health.
“This provision could be the real game-changer,” said Tracy Watts, who leads Mercer’s health care reform. “Employers have consistently told us that they will do whatever is necessary to avoid the tax, and given the rate of increase in health benefit cost, that may require fundamental changes in the type of health benefit they provide and how they provide it.”