CFOs blame ObamaCare as they pass along costs

A growing number of corporations are blaming ObamaCare as they pass further healthcare costs on to workers, according to a new survey of financial executives.

Consulting firm Deloitte reported that 42 percent of chief financial officers who have shifted additional healthcare costs to workers cited the Affordable Care Act as their impetus.

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The number blaming the healthcare law rose to 63 percent for CFOs planning to shift costs in the next year.

The statistics suggest that ObamaCare is aggravating the trend of employers charging staff higher healthcare costs in order to contain spending, and came as most CFOs expressed rising optimism about their companies' prospects.

High-deductible plans are increasingly common for people receiving health insurance through their jobs, and experts predict they might account for half of all work-based health policies within a decade, up from about 10 percent in 2006.

Nearly two-thirds of CFOs have taken steps to control healthcare costs, primarily charging higher premiums or deductibles, according to Deloitte. Comparatively few have reduced the scope or value of benefits in order to reduce spending.

The survey highlights an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act, as employers cite the law in shifting further costs to workers.

ObamaCare contains many provisions to limit consumers' exposure to unaffordable medical expenses and debt, though critics argue its overall impact will be to raise premiums and deductibles.

The Deloitte survey contained some good news for the act, however, stating that it has had "no major impacts" so far on companies' hiring or staffing decisions.

Only 8 percent of CFOs have constrained hiring as a result of ObamaCare, and only 4 percent have shifted toward part-time staffing, the survey found.

These figures cast doubt on arguments by Republicans that the law is exacerbating unemployment and shifting full-time workers into part-time schedules.

The GOP specifically blames the law's employer mandate, which requires larger firms to offer health insurance to staff working 30 hours or more per week. That provision will take effect in 2015.

The reform's impact on healthcare benefits has also been minimal, occurring mainly on the margins, the survey suggested.

Ten percent of CFOs have added coverage for staff that was not previously eligible, and 10 percent have reduced the scope or value of their healthcare benefits.

Another 13 percent said they have reduced their earnings forecasts as a result of the law.

The quarterly "CFO Signals" survey consists of responses from nearly 100 financial executives, 79 percent of whom work for companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, according to Deloitte.