Manufacturers point to rising cost of health care and insurance as top challenge

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A new survey finds that the biggest challenge for the majority of manufacturers this quarter has been the rising cost of health care and insurance.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers released Monday, more than 77 percent of manufacturers pointed to rising health care and insurance costs as their primary challenge this quarter.

More than 90 percent of the companies surveyed said their health insurance premiums have increased, with 58.6 percent of companies increasing employee co-pays, 27.7 percent reducing coverage, and 17.6 percent changing insurance providers to help cut costs.

The findings led one GOP Hill staffer to quip in an email, “Didn’t they say O’Care would REDUCE [health care] costs?”

The survey further probed manufactures on the effects of uncertainty created by Obamacare, beyond the cost of health insurance — with 32.9 percent saying that the uncertainty has resulted in a reduced business outlook for next year. More than 23 percent said they have reduced or stopped hiring, 20.2 percent said they have reduced or slowed down business and 7.9 percent said they have reduced employees’ hours.

“Costs and uncertainty are up, and manufacturers’ optimism is down thanks to the health care reform law,” NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse said in a statement. “The health care law has weighed heavily on manufacturers all year long—and their concerns are not going away. It is standing in the way of manufacturing growth by seriously limiting investment and job creation.”

Still, the vast majority of manufacturers (78.1 percent) characterized their business outlook as either “very” or “somewhat” positive and expected their sales to increase next year by about 3 percent on average, with an average 1.2 percent increase in price.

The survey was conducted among NAMs members nationwide between Nov. 15 and 27, with 287 manufacturers responding to the survey.

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Tags : obamacare
Caroline May