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Illinois businesses find some positives in federal health care law: Survey


(Crain’s)—Despite a general dislike of the Obama administration’s overhaul of health care, Illinois employers have found a few things to like about the landmark law, a new survey shows.

More than half of Illinois-based firms would like to keep provisions such extending coverage to employees’ adult children, eliminating limits on benefits and requiring full coverage for preventive care, according to an online poll conducted by the Chicago-based Midwest Business Group on Health.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, business executives have plenty of gripes about the law.

More than half of those surveyed would like to see a repeal of the mandate for individuals to buy insurance, and 63% would like to see the excise tax on the “Cadillac” health insurance plans eliminated, according to the survey of executives with 125 Illinois-based firms.

“I think that there’s a lot in this law. It’s got a lot of different parts to it, which I think will mean there are things in there people like and don’t like,” Paul Fronstin, director of the health research and education program at the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Among the other results:

• Fifty percent of employers estimated the law increased their health benefit costs by 5% or less last year, with 21% reporting their costs jumped 6% or more.

• Despite the dislike of the excise tax, 56% of employers said it was unlikely or not very likely that they would have to pay it. The tax, which goes into effect in 2018, applies only to benefits above $10,200 per year for an individual or $27,500 annually for a family. The tax rate is a steep 40%.

• Fears are easing that the law will prompt employers to drop their health care plans. Half of the companies surveyed said they would not drop employee coverage, while 14% said it was likely or very likely that they would stop coverage.

• Extending coverage to employees’ adult children up to age 26 has added less that 2% to health plan costs, according to 56% of those surveyed.

The Illinois results are part of national survey of 437 firms conducted by the Midwest Business Group, a nonprofit whose members include human resources and benefits executives.

The survey does reveal deep skepticism about the law. Nearly 60% of respondents said the law won’t reduce health care costs, and 53% said the law is intended to move the country to a single-payer health care system.

“We don’t want to be told what to do, but there are some good things in there,” said Larry Boress, president and chief executive officer of the Midwest Business Group on Health, summarizing Illinois employer attitudes toward the law.

Micah Maidenberg is a reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Business Insurance.