The New York Times (2/18, A9, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that there are concerns among Federal and state officials and consumer advocates that “companies with relatively young, healthy employees may opt out of the regular health insurance market to avoid the minimum coverage standards” in the Affordable Care Act, which “could drive up costs for workers at other companies.” Because companies “can avoid many standards in the new law by insuring their own employees, rather than signing up with commercial insurers,” insurance regulators “worry that commercial insurers – and the insurance exchanges being set up in every state to offer a range of plan options to consumers – will be left with disproportionate numbers of older, sicker people who are more expensive to insurance. That, in turn, could drive up premiums for uninsured people seeking coverage in the exchanges. Since the federal government will subsidize that coverage, it, too, could face higher costs, as would some employees and employers in the traditional insurance market.”
Some Employers Opting Not To Offer Health Insurance Due To ACA Costs. The Financial Times (2/19, Jopson, Rappeport, Subscription Publication), in an article titled, “US Business Hits Out At ‘Obamacare’ Costs,” reports many large US employers, including several restaurant and supermarkets chains, have concluded that they will be better off paying a fine for not offering health insurance to their employees rather than pay for the coverage. The Times says the cost of health insurance is increasing as a result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Other employers are said to be considering reducing workers hours to less than thirty a week so that they are not classified as “full-time,” and therefore offering them health insurance is not mandatory. Companies cited by the Times include Darden, Kroger and Dunkin’ Brands.