NEW YORK New parts of the
Affordable Care Act (ACA) will come into full force in eight
months, and while most steel companies are sticking with the
health insurance plans they currently offer employees, they
arent happy about what may come next.
Nearly a dozen executives of
wire fabricating businesses told AMM that they are
likely to continue offering their current health insurance
plans in 2014, but they predict increasing costs and
organizational headaches when the law requires businesses with
more than 50 employees to offer health insurance next year.
"I think its a disaster,"
H.O. Woltz III, chairman, president and chief executive officer
of Mount Airy, N.C.-based Insteel Industries Inc., told
AMM. "Regulation, complication, mandates,
bureaucracyIm convinced that it will drive costs
up," he said. "(But) we have no plans to pay the fine and
terminate (our) coverage."
Businesses are already seeing
their expenses increase. Joe McAuliffe, chief executive officer
of Medina, Ohio-based Hawthorne Wire Services Ltd., said that
his companys health insurance premiums have risen 20
percent, and John Martin III, chief executive officer of McBee,
S.C.-based Mar-Mac Wire Inc., said he would have to pay at
least an additional $21,000 in taxes in 2014 due to the
Sources said that most of the
costs remain unseen, but an increase in premiums could have the
biggest effect on business expenses.
"(The insurance companies) are
going to lay low until late in the year to decide what
theyre going to do on the premiums and come in more or
less at the last minute. But no one knows what theyre
going to do," said Martin, who is also president of the
American Wire Producers Association.
Employers do not need to swallow
the unpredictable new expenses. Businesses can choose to either
"play" or "pay" under President Obamas health insurance
Companies that "play" are those
with more than 50 employees that cover their employees
health insurance costs, as required by the new law. But those
that choose to "pay" will pay fines for ignoring the law and
sending their employees to the open insurance exchanges instead
of covering what many fear will be rising insurance costs.
"Theres always the
alternative of just paying the fine and letting everyone shop
for their own plan," Martin said. "(But) all of its so
confusingto make people figure it out on their own, to
pay the fine and make people do it on their own, I dont
know if I can do that as an owner.
"Its not simply a
dollars-and-cents decision," Martin said. "Im empathetic
with these people. Its not like Im more
intellectually or emotionally prepared to deal with it than
they are. I want to look at it and say whats best for
Companies will have to make
difficult and complicated decisions about how much coverage
they want to offer their employees. Lisa Evans, director of
health care at Carrollton, Ga.-based Southwire Co., told
AMM that companies with high-wage employees may be
more likely to pay for better plans under the ACA next year in
order to remain attractive to skilled workers.
Several other steel business
executives interviewed by AMM said they were holding
on to their plans
"We wont modify our plan
until the middle of next year. Theres so much in the air
and so much left undone, its difficult to determine
whats going to happen," Laurens Willard, president of
Harrisburg, N.C.-based Galvan Industries Inc., said. "My
personal opinion is that it cant be anything but