One of the big questions that many industry analysts had when it came to health insurance coverage provided by employers under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates - which go into effect next year - was simply how smaller companies in particular might react. Now, though, it seems as though many of the predictions offered in the last several months are coming true: Many firms are sticking with bare-bones coverage options for employees.
The reason for this is really quite simple: If businesses have to comply with the ACA's coverage mandate, they're going to try to pay as little for it as possible, where they can, according to a report from Employee Benefits News. In many cases, this plan will mean that the amount they pay for each employee's health insurance coverage is comparable, or potentially even less than, the $2,000 fine per uncovered full-time worker that the federal government would have levied against them if they opted not to cover those employees at all.
What does this coverage entail?
As the term implies, the type of health coverage provided by these minimal, or "skinny" plans isn't all that considerable, but it may still be preferable for workers who previously received no plans through their employers at all, the report said. Often, these plans will cover preventative care and then allow for very few benefits besides. Further, they may not cover workers' spouses, or allow for retirees to keep the policies after they pull out of the workforce. In those cases, the uncovered people might have to turn to either private or public exchanges to meet their coverage needs and comply with federal law.
However, experts also express some concern that companies could go too far in cutting benefits, the report said. That's because high-quality job candidates can generally command more robust benefits packages, and companies that offer little in this regard might find themselves losing out on people they would have otherwise liked to hire.
As such, it may be incumbent upon health insurance providers to find more ways to help companies strike the right balance between low-cost plans and top-notch benefits that are both going to keep expenses down and still attract better workers when necessary. Those that can do so may find themselves dealing with a lot more business as time goes on.