That's according to a new Wall Street Journal story that says Gannett and other employers expect the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of workers seeking company-provided health care to comply with the law's requirement that all Americans get medical coverage by Jan. 1.
The WSJ attributes the role of uninsured workers in Gannett's higher medical cost forecast to a person familiar with the company's plans the paper didn't identify. It does not say how many employees are currently without any medical coverage.
Gannett announced a major shift in its medical plans in September, switching to one plan from two, and adding steep deductibles that must be met before plan coverage kicks in. With those deductibles, an employee with coverage for just themselves must pay the first $1,500 in doctor visits and other costs before the company starts paying 80% of the rest. Employees with family plans pay the first $3,000 out of pocket.
The company also scrapped a policy where employee premiums were set according to a sliding scale based on how much they earned. Now, the lowest-paid worker pays the same as the highest paid.
It's not all Obamacare
At the time, CEO Gracia Martore principally blamed Obamacare for the company's decision to boost employee premiums and deductibles. But she offered no details on the reform law's specific role. The WSJ story is the first I've seen to do so.
But the paper says that new, higher employee premiums aren't solely because of Obamacare -- a point I made when Gannett first announced its new plans.
"Employers have been pushing more of the cost of providing health insurance on to their workers for years," the WSJ says, "and firms that aren't booking much sales growth due to the sluggish economy are under heavy pressure to keep expenses down."
Gannett's full-year 2013 revenue is expected to dive 3% to $5.2 billion, according to a survey of Wall Street stock analysts. But those same analysts forecast a 17% surge in revenue to $6.1 billion next year because the broadcasting division will sell more ads with the winter Olympics and the midterm elections.
According to the WSJ, Gannett says more than half of its employees will see monthly premiums fall by 12% when the new plans start in January. But factor in the higher deductibles and the savings will almost certainly evaporate.
And for the other half, of course, premiums will rise on top of the higher deductibles. "For some employees, the result was a 60% jump in monthly premiums for family coverage, to $575 from about $360," the WSJ says.
Earlier: Here are two FAQs about Gannett's new medical plan.