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Employers Almost Universally Hate Universal Health Care

April 23, 2008
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When it comes to the government getting involved in managing health care, most large companies are making it pretty clear where they stand: Thanks, but no thanks.

An overwhelming number of large corporations polled recently by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health said they have a strong preference for managing their own health care issues, as opposed to moving toward a “single-payer” solution, such as universal health care. Specifically, respondents at 380 of the 453 large employers—or 84 percent—said they don’t support universal health care coverage.

Instead, they want to provide workers with their own health care programs.

“Most large companies believe they have a fairly good understanding of how they should manage their health care, and how it impacts their workforces,” said Ted Nussbaum, director of group and health care consulting at Watson Wyatt. “And they don’t have a lot of faith that the federal government will be able to manage health care more effectively.”

Nussbaum said companies have voiced their displeasure with federally run programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, arguing that these two programs too frequently shift costs to the private sector. Their concern, Nussbaum said, is that such cost-shifting would increase if the federal government provided medical care for an even larger portion of the population through universal coverage.

“The health of your employees is critical to their productivity and your ability to run your business effectively,” Nussbaum added. “Most employers want to manage this directly and are unwilling to hand this off.”

Filed by Mark Bruno of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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