When Congress wrote the law known as the Affordable Care Act, their idea was to maintain Americans current health coverage as much as possible, to boost consumer protections in the health insurance market for individuals, and to cover the uninsured.
That doesnt mean all workers will keep what they have. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that 7 million fewer people will get their health insurance through work by 2023, although jobs will remain the most common source of health coverage for Americans. People who work part-time, have low-wage jobs or are employed by smaller companies are most likely to lose their job-based benefits and to use the exchanges instead.
Theres already been a steady drumbeat of news stories about companies changing health benefits, like Trader Joes and Home Depot dropping part-time workers from their health plans.
While this phenomenon is real and disruptive to those workers, the outliers shouldnt be cause for concern for most people who have job-based health benefits, said Helen Darling, the president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, a Washington-based association of large employers.
“Nothing has to change for you if you have employer-sponsored coverage,” Darling said.
A survey of U.S. employers found that 93.5 percent of companies definitely or very likely will continue to offer health benefits to workers, compared to 1 percent that definitely wont or are very likely not to, according to a report the International Federation of Health Benefit Plans, a London-based trade group, issued in May.
Employers provide health benefits both as a means of attracting and retaining employees and because they arent taxed like wages so theyre cheaper than raises. “No one is going to say, Whoops, we just decided that were not going to give you health benefits because we dont think theyre that important. It just isnt going to happen,” Darling said. And experts dont expect large employers to make more changes or raise premiums much more than if the health law hadnt been enacted, she said.
But anecdotes about individual companies are causing some worry among workers — worry fomented by Obamacare opponents and the media, Darling said.
“Its more the press that is drumming up attention in a negative way, much of it being driven by people who want to make it a negative experience,” Darling said.
MORE: The Biggest Myth About Obamacare.