The research firm reports that of nearly 600 employers it polled after the landmark decision in King v. Burwell, 29% believed the ruling would be positive for their organization, compared to 17% who saw it as having a negative effect. A slight majority (54%) didn’t believe the ruling would affect them one way or the other.
The larger the employer, the more likely they were to see the Obamacare ruling as a positive (41% of those with 5,000 or more employees).
“The good news we see out of this survey is that employers are starting to see win-win opportunities in the availability of subsidized coverage through the public exchanges,” Tracy Watts, Mercer’s leader for health reform, said in a news release.
Mercer said on its blog that those favoring the ruling may see advantages to having part-time employees (those averaging less than 30 hours a week) or early retirees obtain their coverage from the public exchanges. Those that believe it will have a negative impact “may have concerns about cost-shifting from health care providers in low-cost exchange plans that accept lower reimbursement, or about pressure on their employees’ access to health care providers as more Americans gain insurance.”
Just under half (45%) of survey respondents that currently offer coverage to early retirees said they are considering steering them to a public exchange or have already begun to do so. “It’s easy to see why this would be an attractive option, given that coverage for early retirees costs more, on average, than coverage for active employees,” Mercer noted.
About one-quarter of respondents consider the public exchanges a possible alternative for part-time employees who currently receive employer health benefits.
The survey also found that very few employers (5%) have been waiting for the Supreme Court ruling to comply with reporting requirements or prepare for the “Cadillac” excise tax on rich benefits plans set to take effect in 2018.