Considering the Effects of the ACA by Industry

A release today from the National Association of Manufacturers suggesting its members are already beset with struggles over implementing the Affordable Care Act got me wondering: How is this new law playing out across different industries and sectors.

Stethoscope on money backgroundNAM’s IndustryWeek survey report says the combination of “skyrocketing healthcare costs and the troubled implementation of the [ACA] have created a significant and harmful level of uncertainty” for U.S. manufacturers.

NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse says the ACA “has weighed heavily on manufacturers all year long — and their concerns are not going away; it is standing in the way of manufacturing growth by seriously limiting investment and job creation.”

A few survey findings: More than 77 percent of manufacturers identified rising healthcare and insurance costs as their most important challenge, more than 90 percent said their health-insurance premiums had increased, and a significant portion have had to increase employee co-pays (59 percent), reduce coverage (28 percent) and/or change insurance providers (18 percent) to lower their costs.

NAM’s survey also finds the ACA and accompanying uncertainties have had effects that extend well beyond premium payments and have placed a roadblock in manufacturers’ efforts to invest and grow. “When asked about how these uncertainties have impacted their business,” the report says, “nearly one-third said they had reduced their outlook for 2014, and a sizable percentage had reduced employment or stopped hiring (23 percent) and/or reduced or slowed down their business investment (20 percent).” Scary.

Searching for other industries and sectors, I found this Cleveland Business blog post by Aaron Grossman, president of EO Cleveland and Alliance Solutions Group, citing three others — staffing, retail and restaurants — to be hardest hit, “because they employ many low-wage workers and, until now, weren’t required to provide healthcare to these workers.”

This study from Unifocus concurs, and includes the entire hospitality industry because of its reliance on part-time workers. Remember, companies with many part-timers are now required under the ACA to figure them in when calculating full-time-equivalent employees. Many part-time-reliant companies that weren’t required before will now be required to offer healthcare coverage.

Even big pharma — which you might expect would remain fairly unscathed by healthcare reform — faces huge potential repercussions, according to this study from Oliver Wyman. It points out that ” … as we consider ACA’s long-term effect on healthcare, it appears that the feeling of victory [when the law was passed in 2010] was premature. Factor in the full range of reform-related changes, and the impact on the typical pharma company looks significant … as much as 20 percent of U.S. revenue. That’s $2 billion at risk for every $10 billion in U.S. sales.”

While there is still “significant uncertainty about how reform will be altered by rulemaking and further legislation, a transformation of the healthcare system is now inevitable,” Oliver Wyman’s report says. “The industry faces a fundamental imperative: Healthcare costs in the United States are growing at an unsustainable rate. If changes driven by ACA don’t succeed in bending [the] medical trend over the next decade, the whole [healthcare] system—pharma along with payers and providers—will face draconian measures to control costs. Pharma has no choice but to ready itself.”

I hunted for some government reports on impact by industry and came up short, though there are certainly hosts of links to things everyone will need to know as the law becomes further implemented. Among them are the DOL’s description of the ACA’s impact on wellness programs and frequently asked questions about the law’s implementation that were posted earlier this year.

I didn’t see anything on industries that would not be impacted. I doubt there are any out there.