By Elise Viebeck - 07/24/12 01:48 PM EDT
About one in 10 employers plans to end workers' health insurance as the new healthcare law takes effect, according to a new study.
The finding could bolster opponents of the law, who argue that its changes to the healthcare system will force workers out of insurance plans they like. Supporters of the law say most people will keep their current coverage.
Surveying 560 U.S. companies, consulting firm Deloitte found that 9 percent of employers are planning to drop employee health benefits within three years. Eighty-one percent said they would continue covering employees, and 10 percent said they were not sure.
The law includes a provision requiring people to carry health insurance or pay a fine, and seeks to make it easier for Americans to find and afford coverage outside of their employers.
The study found that smaller firms were most likely to say they will drop coverage. Thirteen percent of companies with 50 to 100 workers said they would end policies within three years, compared with 2 percent of companies with more than 1,000 workers.
The businesses surveyed were not identified.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the Massachusetts law that inspired the federal healthcare overhaul led to an increase in the number of people insured through their employers.
"This law will decrease costs, strengthen our businesses and make it easier for employers to provide coverage to their workers," Erin Shields Britt told The Wall Street Journal.
Several other estimates have predicted that fewer people will receive healthcare through their employers after the healthcare law takes effect. In March, for example, congressional auditors pegged the figure at 3 and 5 million people each year from 2019 to 2022.
The Congressional Budget Office added that most employers "will continue to have an economic incentive to offer health insurance to their employees."