Shrinking Job Market Encourages Big Employers To Keep Health Care Benefits

In an effort to recruit and retain workers in a shrinking job market, large employers in two recent national surveys say that they have no intention of stripping health benefits from their employees, Kaiser Health News reports. The two surveys are by Willis Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

In the Willis Towers Watson survey taken in 2014, only 25% of companies with 1,000 or more employees predicted that they would still offer job-based benefits in 10 years. That number jumped to 65% in this year’s survey. In addition, in this year's survey, 92% were very confident that they would be offering a company-based health plan in five years.

Julie Stone, a senior benefits consultant with Willis Towers Watson, tells KHN: “The extent of uncertainty in Washington has made people reluctant to make changes to their benefit programs without knowing what’s happening. They’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.”

Unemployment is at 4.3%, tying a 16-year low in May. Unemployment was at 9.9% when the ACA was passed in 2010. Many employers, KHN reports, had envisioned switching employees onto the Obamacare exchanges, but the future of those exchanges is very much up in the air these days.

Companies in the NBGH survey predicted health costs will rise 5% next year, up from an average 4.1% increase for 2016,” KHN reports. “That’s still far faster than inflation, which is less than 3%, and overall wage growth. By many accounts, soaring costs for specialty pharmaceuticals used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia and other complex conditions are the biggest factor.”

Source: Kaiser Health News