Creation of health exchanges through the new healthcare reform law will result in a net increase in the number of employers who offer health insurance coverage, a new study by the RAND Corp. predicts.
The nature of employer-sponsored coverage may change substantially, however, after the exchange component of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is put in effect in 2014, according to the report from RAND, Santa Monica, Calif.
One of these changes is an increase in the number of workers offered coverage through the exchanges, the report said.
The number of large employers who decide to offer coverage through the exchanges will be linked to the rules established by states for the exchanges, the report notes. For example, states have the option to allow firms with more than 100 workers to offer coverage through the exchange.
“If large employers are allowed to participate in exchanges, we predict that many–both current and new insurance offerers–will elect to do so,” the report said. “Many employers will find that offering coverage through the exchanges is an attractive option, owing to wider risk pooling, low administrative costs, and expanded choices.”
The report said that the number of people with health insurance will increase significantly as a result of PPACA, partly because the law provides subsidies and other incentives for small businesses to offer insurance.
This is consistent with the findings of a Commonwealth Fund report issued Sept. 2.
According to RAND, the number of workers offered coverage will increase from 84.6% of the approximately 136 million U.S. workers 115.1 million to 94.6%, after the reform.
“This increase is not driven by penalties levied on employers with more than 50 workers,” the report said. In fact, the probability of being offered coverage increases proportionately more for workers at small firms than it does for workers at large firms, even though small firms are not subject to penalties.