Mike Brewer, president of Lockton Benefit Group, urged a U.S. House Committee March 10 to help employers reduce the costs and administrative burdens of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Our clients find that the health reform law makes what is already a costly and administratively burdensome endeavor — the sponsorship of a simple group health insurance plan — even more expensive and more hassle-prone," Brewer told the U.S. House Education & Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

"Our clients wish that Congress would work to make an employer's provision of health insurance easier and less costly, rather than more expensive and more burdensome," he addes.

In conjunction with the hearing, Lockton released an actuarial modeling study of more than 130 benefit plans that shows that the health reform law imposes additional costs on employers.

The study also shows that the law will create a financial incentive for some employers to terminate health benefit plans in 2014 when the health insurance exchanges take effect.

"Employers are burdened and frustrated by aspects of the health reform law that add costs to their health plans," said Brewer. "Some employers will eliminate group health coverage and full-time jobs in 2014 because of the law."

Brewer told the House Subcommittee, "Across all industry segments in our book of business, clients will have a significant financial incentive to terminate their group coverage once the exchanges present employees with another subsidized health insurance option. The vast majority of our clients currently spend far more on health insurance per employee than the nondeductible penalty under the ‘play or pay’ mandate. By 2014, this gap will be much larger still," he said.

Brewer also addressed employers’ prevailing strategic approach. "The majority of our clients tell us they will wait and see. What they will do in 2014 depends on their health insurance costs and budget in 2014, and their perceived need to use a health plan to gain a competitive advantage for labor,” he declared.

"With regard to this latter point, many clients have told us, 'We won't be the first to drop coverage, but we won't wait to be third, either.'"

Lockton actuaries modeled the impact of health reform for hundreds of its clients, and aggregated results from 136 of those analyses into a report that examines the impact of the health reform law on middle-market health plan sponsors.

The modeling project assesses the additional costs for employers and employees in their current health plans due to changes imposed this year by the health reform law.

It also evaluates the financial implications of options employers will have in 2014, when they are required by to offer health coverage to full-time employees or risk penalties.

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