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White House rejects healthcare survey

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The White House Wednesday rejected the conclusion of a study indicating more U.S. employers than projected may drop company-funded healthcare plans.

The Affordable Care Act was intended, among other things, to encourage employers to add workers to their insurance plans, as they would be fined if they did not. A study by McKinsey and Co. found as many as 30 percent of employers could choose to pay the fines and, perhaps, give workers a small raise, rather than have them join insurance programs.

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The figure could increase costs of the government's subsidy program -- the fallback position for those without insurance -- enormously, The Atlantic reported Wednesday

Speaking with reporters at the White House Wednesday, Obama administration press secretary Jay Carney said the McKinsey report "is pretty starkly at odds with the experts from the Congressional Budget Office, the RAND Corp., the Urban Institute."

"And it is also starkly at odds with history," Carney said. "History has shown that reform motivates more businesses to offer insurance. Health insurance in Massachusetts, for example, uses a similar structure as the Affordable Care Act, with an exchange, a personal responsibility requirement, and an employer responsibility requirement.

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"And a number of individuals with employer-sponsored insurance in Massachusetts has increased. We are confident the Affordable Care Act will strengthen our existing system, employer-based system, going forward."

The study, which included 1,200 companies and interviews with employees, found 85 percent of workers would stay with their jobs, even if the company failed to provide medical insurance.

"Overall, employees value cash compensation several times more than health coverage. Further, many younger employees also value career-development opportunities and work-life balance more than health benefits," the report said.

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