Survey: Carriers hit by health care changes

Recent health care law changes will impact more than 80 percent of carriers that responded to a recent survey by Transport Capital Partners.

“The cost pressure for driver health care and other employees’ health care is just another balancing act challenging carriers this year during rate negotiations and amidst uncertainty in the general overall economy,” said Richard Mikes, TCP partner and survey leader.

The other 19 percent of carriers that reported no effect might be independent contractor firms, speculated Lana Batts, another TCP partner. “Ultimately, contractors must be compensated for the cost of their own health insurance or this source of capital and labor for the industry will continue to shrink,” she said. “The survey continues to show less reliance on contractors, because they are simply less available.”

Carriers are reacting by shifting more costs to employees (43 percent) and are asking employees to pay more for family coverage (37 percent). Twenty-nine percent are facing increased costs, but still haven’t developed an alternative plan.

Among other survey results, 65 percent of carriers said driver wages must exceed $60,000 to attract and retain drivers, as a way to deal with a perceived driver shortage that is keeping trucks parked. Mikes said shippers and brokers report that trucks are harder to find. He added that carriers acknowledge that rates have been increasing but not enough to increase return on investment sufficiently to keep pace with costs.