Obamacare may be over as a campaign issue—or so declareth its hopeful supporters—but it's still very much a cold sweat-inducer among business owners who have to shoulder its costs and abide by its requirements. As part of its latest monthly survey of service sector businesses, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas included specific questions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act. The responses from 191 executives were not so encouraging for those hoping that the health care law won't be a kick in the groin to the economy.
Asked, "How would you say the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has affected your firm's health care costs…?" 82.1 percent of respondents estimate increased costs for 2014; 90.9 percent estimate increased costs for 2015. Only 0.6 percent estimated lower costs for either year.
Of a subset of retail business executives, 86.7 percent estimated increased costs for 2014; 92.3 percent said the same of 2015.
But those are just fat-cat executives. Who cares about them? What does that mean for the working folks benefiting from the law?
Well…20.8 percent of those fat cats say the number of people they employ will be lower as a result of the Affordable Care Act (2.7 percent say it will be higher). And 22.4 percent say they'll use a higher proportion of cost-reducing part-time, contract, or temporary workers (7.1 percent will use fewer). Some businesses are reducing wages and benefits, too—certainly more than are increasing them.
Maybe Obamacare isn't a campaign issue. But in the rest of the world, it still plays a role.