Red State Employers Are More Likely to Change Benefit Plans if “Obamacare” Is Implemented – GfK/Research Now Study

New report reveals attitudes, future plans of 504 benefits decision makers across the US

<0> Red State Employers Are More Likely to Change Benefit Plans if “Obamacare” Is Implemented – GfK/Research Now Study </0>

GfK Marketing and Communications, Consumer Experiences North AmericaDavid Stanton, (908) 875-9844

With the 2012 presidential election less than a month away, healthcare reform remains a central issue in the campaign; and if “Obamacare” goes fully into effect, benefits managers at companies large and small will be crucial players in implementing the new policies.

A recent study by GfK and Research Now captures the attitudes and plans of 504 benefits decision makers nationwide, and shows clear differences between those in Republican-leaning “Red” states, Democratic-leaning “Blue” states, and undecided “Swing” states. Overall, benefits managers in Red states are more likely than those in Blue states to say that the Obama healthcare act will add to their companies’ costs, and that they plan to change their benefits as a result of the policies.

“These results have huge implications for the strategies that health insurance companies will use in pursuing business in different regions of the country,” said Tim Nanneman, Director of Health Insurance Research at GfK. “Ironically, the movement away from the traditional model of employer-sponsored health benefits, and toward the use of health insurance exchanges, may happen most quickly in the areas of the country that are most opposed to healthcare reform.”

The study, “How American Businesses Are Preparing for the Implementation of Healthcare Reform,” shows that 59% of benefits managers in Red states believe that health costs incurred by their companies will increase faster than if no reform had passed, compared to 46% in Blue states and 58% in Swing states.

In addition, nearly four in ten (37%) Red-state benefits managers project that, three years from now, their company will have increased, or begun to increase, their use of a defined contribution model for providing benefits. In contrast, just over two in ten in Blue (22%) or Swing (24%) states anticipate switching to a defined contribution plan.

Red state employers are also more pessimistic about compliance with the law. More than half (56%) of benefits managers in Red states feel that it is extremely or very likely that a significant number of people who are currently uninsured will choose to pay a fine rather than buy health insurance. By contrast, the figure for Blue states is 37%, and for Swing states, 49%.

Overall, 61% of Red state benefits decision makers say their company’s reaction to the healthcare reform law is or negative, compared to 54% in Swing states and only 32% in Blue states.

The survey was conducted jointly by GfK and Research Now among an online sample of 504 employers from August 13 to 24, 2012.

The full report on this study covers topics such as

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