Here’s one more negative prediction about the Affordable Care Act that’s hasn’t come true: Employers are continuing to provide health care options for workers. This year, The New York Times reports, some 155 million Americans have employer-based health insurance coverage. That’s from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
And that’s expected to remain stable for another 10 years, with more than half of people under the age of 65 covered through their employers.
Remember the dire predictions from President Obama’s political opponents when the ACA came to fruition? It would explode the deficit. It didn’t, and the deficit is in fact down. It would cause health insurance rates to skyrocket. It didn’t; rates went up, but they’d been going up anyway in the system that put people at the mercy of insurance companies.
And then there was the big one, that with the advent of federal and some federal-state insurance exchanges created under the ACA, a great many employers would simply drop coverage and send their employees into the exchanges, where choices would be fewer and coverage not as good.
So much for that one. The Times reports that employers have kept health plans, and that the plans are pretty much the same as they were before the ACA came into being. Now CBO officials have even revised, downward, their earlier estimates of the number of people who will lose coverage because of the ACA. They also say that coverage through employers, with those employers paying a part of premiums — in many cases a very large part — will remain the coverage of choice for a majority of working people.
Companies say they’ve kept the coverage because employees like it, and the companies want to keep employees happy. Benefits — life insurance, paid vacations, health care — are something workers expect, and the workers who are fortunate to be in fields that are labor- and knowledge-intensive have choices when it comes to where they work.
But there’s another reason for companies to provide coverage. The companies that offer it get big tax breaks for doing so. And if they didn’t, The Times reports, they’d be confronted with situations in which employees they want to retain would expect an employer to pay them more to enable them to afford their own coverage. That makes it financially smart for companies to sign on with insurance providers.
For the president’s critics, the facts won’t make much difference. But for all the hue and cry about “repealing Obamacare,” the ACA is working.