Although many tea-leaf readers predicted that health care reform would spur employers to drop health benefits, a new poll of nearly 3,700 executives by Crain Communications shows such forecasts may have been based more on fear than fact.

Granted, the full force of reform’s impact has yet to be felt by employers – and won’t for several more years. We all know the stats: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act puts employers with more than 50 employees on the hook for a $2,000 per employee-per year fine, starting in 2014.

Still, Crain found that 52.5% of employers strongly disagreed that it would be better for their organizations to stop offering health care benefits and pay a fine under the new law.

Another 15.3% somewhat disagreed with the notion of dropping coverage and paying the fine. Eighteen percent somewhat agreed with the idea of dropping coverage; 14.1% strongly believe their organizations would be better off in dropping benefits.

Among employers with 25,000 or more workers, 64.9% strongly disagreed that their organizations would be better off dropping health care benefits. Another 12.4% somewhat disagreed; 14.2% somewhat agreed and 8.4% strongly agreed.

Crain also finds that you pros still are a bit fuzzy on understanding PPACA – but who could blame you?

Among survey respondents with benefits decision-making responsibility, about 18% strongly agreed they understood the impact of the law, while 37.3% somewhat or strongly disagreed. More than half (51.3%) of benefits decisionmakers say they strongly disagree it would be better for their organizations to drop benefits, while about 18.5% somewhat agreed it would be better, and 14.8% strongly agreed, Crain reports.

Lastly, 65.7% of respondents strongly agreed that they would continue offering health care benefits because they are critical to employee recruiting and retention.

So, was employer opposition to reform real or imagined? Was the idea of reform more unsettling than the reality? Do you agree or disagree with Crain’s findings? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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