Consultants have told some large employers they can save money by dropping health insurance in 2014 and funneling employees into insurance exchanges under the new health care law, according to a report by congressional Republicans.
Staff for Republican lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked companies represented on President Barack Obama's jobs council for statements and internal presentations made about the law.
Their remarks in a report Thursday show that some employers expect the law to increase their health care costs.
But several who were mentioned in the report told The Wall Street Journal they have no plans to drop their health insurance coverage.
The committee's report said that "while no member of the council indicated that they were considering dropping their coverage at the current time, the temptation to drop coverage or provide a bare minimum level of coverage remains."
NextEra Energy sent the committee an August 2010 company presentation in which it said it believed the law would add two percent to 8.5 percent to its health care costs in 2011.
Dropping coverage for 10,500 full-time employees and directing them to buy insurance for themselves on public exchanges that take effect in 2014 would cost $21 million in penalties. That cost would be offset by lower health care costs, the presentation said.
Mark Busse, a spokesman for the company, declined to discuss the content of the presentation or confirm whether it had been accurately reported by the committee, saying that it included confidential and proprietary information.
The committee reported that Southwest Airlines said in its employee magazine of June 2010 that it expected the law to increase its costs.
At a presentation made to Southwest in July 2011, benefits consultant Mercer told the company that under the new system it could expect to pay $414 million a year to provide health care for workers, or drop coverage entirely and instead pay $111 million in penalties.
Southwest Airlines spokesman Paul Flaningan said the company did not plan to drop coverage for workers.
"Southwest Airlines' health care costs have significantly increased over the past decade, even prior to the passing of the 2010 health care reform legislation," he said. "It is our goal to continue to provide our employees with industry-leading benefits, while at the same time explore ways to keep our costs at a sustainable level."
Boeing also told employees in a September 2010 fact sheet that "recent health care reform legislation will significantly add to [health care] costs," but the company plans to continue offering coverage to create "an important competitive advantage in attracting and retaining our skilled workforce."