WYOMING - Bob Roth is more knowledgeable than most CEOs when it comes to health care. He serves on the board of The Spectrum Health System and once served on the board of Priority Health, one of the region's largest health insurers. Still, the former chairman of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce still isn't sure how the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will impact his company, Roman Manufacturing.
He is sure of one thing however, health insurance costs will increase. "Absolutely - there's no doubt about it" Roman told a visitor to his plant recently.
Roth's company is considered "large" since it employs more than 50 workers full time. The government defines "full time" as anyone who works more than 30 hours a week. Companies of that size must offer what the government calls "quality, affordable" health insurance, or face a $2000 per employee penalty. That penalty enforcement was delayed until 2015.
"Affordable" insurance means an employee's costs for their individual insurance premium can not exceed 9.5% of their household income.
The cost increases come as a result of the 6 new fees and taxes that are part of the ACA. Andy Hetzel, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says employees will receive better coverage.
"They should understand that these plans are gonna offer a lot more but the costs will be a little more" Hetzel told WZZM 13. "You're mandating services in every plan so the plans will be richer, the costs will be more."
At Roman, CEO Roth says "There's gonna be that additional 6% premium tax, and it would be nieve to believe insurance companies are going to absorb that; they're basically going to pass that through."
Roth is still unsure if it's worth being penalized for failing to offer insurance. Instead, he wonders if it would make more financial sense to perhaps boost employees' pay, and have them go buy insurance on their own in the on-line insurance exchange that will soon be in operation. "If that made the most economic sense we would definitely look at it."
Roth says his company now pays for employee's insurance if they take certain steps to ensure they monitor their health. He hopes the ACA will allow his firm, and others, to continue doing what they can to lower their own health costs, on their own.