The Global Manufacturer

Health Care Reform Off Message on Costs

A new poll of employers shows why health care reform is having such a tough time in the court of public opinion. Consulting firm Watson Wyatt polled 160 employers and found that 73% believe health care costs will increase if health care reform legislation is enacted. Moreover, 86% of employers said the health care proposals under consideration would weaken the role employer-sponsored plans play in health care coverage.

"While the national debate centers on options for expanding coverage and ways to generate revenue to fund reform, employers are concerned that health care costs will rise even higher as a result of the new legislation," observes Ted Nussbaum, North America director of group and health care consulting at Watson Wyatt.

With a withering recession and continued job losses foremost on people's minds, such polls show that the Obama administration and Congress picked a poor time to introduce major legislation that appears to raise costs for employers and employees. While many health care policy experts continue to point out the huge inefficiencies of the U.S. system, the current proposals seem to promise more financial pain, not gain.

Regarding the coverage proposals being considered, only 10% of the employers in the Watson Wyatt poll said they would support an employer mandate, while 50% would support an individual mandate. While 10% would support both, 30% would support neither.

As for paying for universal coverage, only 29% would support a tax on high-income employees with high-cost plans, and only 11% would support taxing employer contributions to health care as income.

TAGS: The Economy
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