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Survey: Obamacare will affect hospitals as employers, too

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A new survey of hospitals in five states underscores that Obamacare will affect hospitals not just as medical providers but also as employers.

Cammack LaRhette Consulting’s eighth annual Medical and Prescription Benefits Survey of 50 hospitals in Pennsylvania and four other states found that at least 2 percent of the hospital plan cost increases can be traced to enactment of the health care reform law, major provisions of which will kick in Jan. 1, 2014.

However, the survey said, while the cost of total medical and prescription drug plans continued to rise -- by an average increase of 5.73 percent this year -- that was smaller than the rise in recent years and considerably less than the increase five years ago.

The survey also said one of the biggest challenges hospitals face in the future is tracking the hours of per diem workers. None of the participants currently offer medical or prescription coverage to those workers. But, by 2015, the law will require employers to offer medical coverage to employees working more than 30 hours a week, which in some cases could include per diem employees.

And, the survey said, another impending part of the law, the health insurance tax on insured products, is driving more small to mid-size hospitals to self-insure their health benefits.

Seventy-six percent of the hospitals offer wellness programs, and another 3 percent expect to enact programs in the next 12 months, the survey said.

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