WASHINGTON -- Passage of a sweeping Senate bill would mean most employees of auto dealerships and suppliers would see slight decreases in health care premiums, a nonpartisan congressional report says.
The Congressional Budget Office report -- the first independent analysis of the legislation's impact on premiums -- undercuts arguments by the insurance industry that the average family's premium's would increase by thousands of dollars.
Both the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association said the findings did not alter their concerns about the bill.
The report estimated that employees of large businesses, which include many dealerships and suppliers, would see average premium reductions of as much as 3 percent in 2016.
Large companies are defined in the report as those with more than 50 employees. Most dealership employees are in that category, according to NADA.
In 2016 employees of small businesses would see little change in premiums, ranging from an average increase of 1 percent to an average decline of 2 percent, the 28-page report said.
One reason for the reductions in all businesses is that younger and relatively healthy workers who do not now enroll in employers' plans would be encouraged to do so, the report said.
In a separate calculation, the study found 12 percent of small-business employees would see much larger premium declines as a result of the small-business tax credit.
The report acknowledged its estimates were colored by a "substantial degree of uncertainty" because of the difficulty in anticipating businesses' or employees' responses to legislative incentives — a vulnerability noted by NADA. "It is difficult for CBO or any organization to look 10 to 20 years in the future without making some questionable assumptions," NADA spokesman Bailey Wood said. "Neither the House nor Senate bills address the underlying problems associated with the rising cost of health care. That, coupled with onerous employer mandates, threatens jobs and the small businesses, such as dealerships, that create them."
Dave Andrea, OESA vice president of industry analysis and economics, said suppliers are so diverse that it's difficult to relate the CBO's broad analysis to their sector. He said any assessment of premiums should be done on a company-by-company basis.