A recent survey by GfK and Research Now indicates that benefits managers’ attitudes and plans regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act largely trend with the politics of their region.

Those in Republican-leaning “red” states are more likely than those in liberal “blue” states to say that the Obama administration’s health care reform will increase company costs and result in policy changes.

Some 504 benefits decision makers were surveyed nationwide this August with results released last week. Thirty-seven percent of red-state respondents believe that their company will have increased or begun to increase their use of a defined contribution model for providing benefits. Only 22% of blue-state benefits professionals and 24% of those in swing states anticipate a DC switch.

More than half (56%) of red-state managers say it is extremely or very likely that a significant number of people who are currently uninsured will choose to pay a fine rather than buy health insurance, GfK and Research Now report. Only 37% of blue-state and 54% of swing-state respondents feel the same.

“These results have huge implications for the strategies that health insurance companies will use in pursuing business in different regions of the country,” says Tim Nanneman, director of health insurance research at GfK. “Ironically, the movement away from the traditional model of employer-sponsored health benefits, and toward the use of health insurance exchanges, may happen most quickly in the areas of the country that are most opposed to health care reform.”

Fifty-nine percent of red-state benefits mangers think health costs incurred by their companies will rise faster than if “Obamacare” had not been passed, compared to 46% in blue states and 58% in swing states.

Only 32% of blue-state respondents say their company’s reaction to the health care reform act is very or somewhat negative. In swing states, it’s 54% and in red ones, 61%.

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