Employers See Health Reform Risks

In wake of Supreme Court ruling, smaller companies worry costs may rise in form of higher premiums or penalties.

White Castle System Inc. began offering health coverage when Calvin Coolidge was president. That 88-year history didn’t make last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling any more palatable to the seller of hamburger sliders.

In upholding the core of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, justices still left U.S. businesses wondering what they will have to spend to comply, said Jamie Richardson, vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based White Castle.

Young Adults

Some provisions have taken effect, such as rules that allow adult children to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Starting in 2014, insurers will be banned from turning down people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Policy Debate

That has fueled a policy debate about whether the slowdown is a temporary result of a weak economy or a more permanent change brought on by pressure from insurers and businesses to trim spending and shift more costs to employees.

Dealer’s View

Notwithstanding the Obama administration’s pledges of cost containment, bills will keep rising, said Underriner, who watched news coverage of the court ruling from his glass-walled office in the showroom, surrounded by Honda Crosstour and Pilot sport-utility vehicles, an Accord sedan and an Odyssey minivan.

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