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GAO: Not Clear How PPACA Will Affect Employers

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Just about every forecast of how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) will affect employer-sponsored health insurance comes up with a different number,.

John Dicken, a director at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), presents that conclusion in a discussion of how PPACA might affect the group health market.

Dicken summarizes GAO investigators’ findings in response to a request from Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.

The GAO investigators created 5 PPACA simulations of their own, and they also reviewed the results from 19 employer surveys.

The GAO investigators came up with predictions that PPACA could reduce enrollment in group health plans as much as 2.5% or increase enrollment as much as 2.5% during the first 2 years that the law is in effect, Dicken says.

“Two of the studies also indicated that the majority of individuals who lose employer-sponsored coverage would transition to other sources of coverage,” Dicken says.

The organizers of 16 of the employer surveys have reported that PPACA could cause 2% to 20% of employers to drop health coverage altogether, but 11 of the organizers are predicting that the decrease in the percentage of employers offering group health benefits would be under 10%, Dicken says.

Those survey organizers did not include employers with no health benefits in their results, Dicken says.

Another 3 survey organizers polled employers that do not offer health benefits. Those organizers are suggesting that PPACA could lead 1% to 28% of employers without health benefits to add health benefits, Dicken says.

The GAO investigators also looked at the possibility that PPACA might increase employers’ interest in escaping from the effects of some PPACA changes by self-insuring.

One survey organizer, for example, found that the percentage of employers thinking about self-insuring has increased to 52%, up from 6% a year earlier, Dicken says.


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