Fortune.com is reporting more bad news for American workers as a result of the Democrats’ new health care law. After reviewing internal company documents, Fortune reports that four major U.S. employers (AT&T, Verizon, Deere and Caterpillar) are considering “dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.” These companies currently offer health benefits to well over 2.3 million employees, retirees and their dependents — a figure which exceeds the population of 15 states as well as the District of Columbia.
Fortune.com correctly points out that this “would dismantle the employer-based system” and “would seem to contradict President Obama’s statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them.”
While the news is certainly disturbing, it should not be shocking. Republicans and non-partisan experts have predicted for months millions of employees will lose their health insurance as a result of the new law.
- Just last month, the Obama Administration’s own Medicare actuaries released their analysis of the Democrats’ health overhaul warning that 16 million Americans will lose employer-provided health insurance.
- The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimate predicts that 9 million Americans will lose employer-provided health insurance because of the significant changes the Democrats made to America’s health care system.
How can this be true? As Fortune.com points out, because of the way the Democrats wrote the health law, it is much cheaper for many employers to pay the tax penalty than it is to offer health insurance to their employees. For example:
- An AT&T report [see slide 6] notes that they spent $4.7 billion on medical costs but would have been taxed a much lower amount ($600 million) for not offering their 1.2 million employees, retirees, and their dependents’ health care benefits – a savings of $4.1 billion for the company.
- Fortune.com estimates Caterpillar could reduce its expenses by 70% if they eliminate health benefits and instead pay the tax.