Despite the potential for increased costs and more regulatory red tape, 82 percent of companies recently surveyed by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. plan to continue providing health care coverage to their workers when the employee mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect on January 1, 2014.
Surprisingly, none of the 100 human resources executives surveyed by Challenger said that their companies plan to drop health coverage when the mandate begins. Only 2 percent of respondents indicated that their companies do not currently offer health coverage and have no plans to add coverage beginning in 2104.
While the employer mandate is just six months away from kicking in, about one in ten (11.1 percent) said their companies have not reached a decision on health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“It appears that concerns about companies’ nationwide dropping health plans may have been premature. Certainly, some companies will decide it is more economical to pay the penalties than provide healthcare, but for those that have been offering coverage voluntarily for many years, it is unlikely that the new law will prompt them to suddenly stop, ” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Continue reading
Automotive Quality Issues Could Lead To Layoffs
As U.S., Japanese and European officials continue to probe recent quality issues with Toyota’s line of products, the nation’s parts manufacturers may find themselves under increased pressure amid falling profits. In addition to Toyota’s troubles, auto manufacturers in Michigan, including Yazaki Corp. of Canton and Denso International America of Southfield were included in a separate inquiry as part of an anticompetitive investigation, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, as was Tokai Rika Co. of Plymouth. Last year, employers in the automotive sector announced 52,271 layoffs in 2009 and over 4,000 layoffs were announced in the auto industry in January, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
As Health Care Summit Begins, New Survey Reveals Employers’ Pain
With President Obama and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle meeting today in a summit on health care, a new survey of employers further demonstrates the need for reform, as a growing number of companies losing confidence in their ability to provide health care benefits in the future. In the survey, conducted by the National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson & Co. and reported on by Workforce.com, only 57 percent of employers said they are very confident they will continue to offer health care benefits 10 years from now, down from 62 percent in 2009 and 73 percent in 2007. The survey also found that 83 percent of employers either have made significant changes or expect to revamp their health care strategies in the next two years, up from 59 percent in 2009. As more companies are compelled to lower or drop coverage, more and more Americans will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured. Should the U.S. move away from the tradition of employer-paid health insurance or should lawmakers be finding ways to make it easier for employers to provide coverage? What steps are some employers taking in attempts to keep health care costs under control?
HEALTH CARE REFORM COULD CREATE NEW JOBS
The health care sector has been one of the few bright spots in this otherwise depressed job market. Over the past 12 months, health care employment has grown by nearly 300,000 workers, while most other sectors continue to shed jobs. As the debate over health care reform rages on across the country, few have examined what the proposed changes will mean for job creation. Part of the problem with attempting to determine how health care reform will impact employment is that no one knows what the final legislation will contain. However, if the bill that passes accomplishes one of the primary goals of reform, which is to get the millions of uninsured some type of health coverage, then we are most likely going to see a rise in the demand and use of health care services. This, in turn, will increase the need for more health care workers, particularly those specializing in preventive care and long-term care. What are the pros and cons regarding health care reform when it comes to small business? Which health care occupations could see the biggest boom from health care reform?
FANTASY FOOTBALL’S IMPACT ON WORK PRODUCTIVITY
With the NFL season opening games less than two weeks away, Fantasy Football participants across the country are finalizing their draft picks and preparing for 17 weeks of point tracking, roster shuffling and player trades. With many Fantasy Footballers using their workplace Internet to research players and make mid-week team moves, what will the impact be on office productivity? Should employers be worried or should they find a way to embrace the growing popularity of Fantasy Football and use it as a morale- and camaraderie-building activity?
DISNEY BUYS MARVEL COMICS
On the surface today’s announced merger between Disney and Marvel Comics appears to be a win-win for all parties. And it may indeed prove to be one, as Disney is able to benefit from increasingly successful comic book franchises, while Marvel obtains the unparalleled marketing strength of Disney. However, one challenge could be difficult to overcome: the task of combining what are likely to be highly divergent cultures of the two corporations. The clash of corporate cultures has been a contributing factor in many mergers that failed to deliver on expectations, including the ill-fated marriage between Time-Warner and AOL. How do companies decide if they are a good fit for each other? Are job cuts likely to follow the closing of the merger? What should employees of both companies be doing now and after the merger to increase job security?
Unable to compete with foreign companies that do not provide health benefits to their employees and retirees, more and more American corporations will join the movement to eliminate employer-paid health benefits and create a national, single-payer alternative.
The percentage of small business (with fewer than 200 employees) offering health insurance has been falling steadily from 69% in 2001 to 61% in 2007, according to a survey by management consulting firm Mercer. Meanwhile, large companies have been shifting more of the cost burden to employees, whose in-network PPO deductibles have increased from $689 in 2000 to $1,134 in 2007.
In addition to health costs eroding wage gains and corporate profitability, employer-paid health benefits make less sense in a workforce that is becoming increasingly mobile and flexible. More Americans are changing employers every year or two, employed as contingent or contract workers and holding multiple part- and full-time jobs. The cost and loss of efficiency from the paperwork alone is enough to compel corporations to seek alternatives to the current standard.
Companies Will Mandate Wellness Programs In Response To Health Care Costs
Until companies can find a way to excise the burden of employer-paid health insurance, more and more will institute corporate-backed wellness programs and mandate worker enrollment.
Office equipment such as Steelcase’s WalkStations, which allow workers to walk on treadmills while at their computers, will catch on in offices nationwide. Other programs, such as in-office gyms, company-funded fitness classes and healthy food options will allow workers to keep in shape. Moreover, a growing number of employers will take a hard line against unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking to keep health costs down.
More companies will follow the lead of one Indiana company, which announced that workers who allow health risks such as tobacco use, obesity or high cholesterol to go unchecked will pay more for their company health insurance beginning in 2009. A handful of companies are refusing to hire smokers and at least two have terminated employees who failed to quit smoking.