The Washington Times - June 22, 2012, 11:10AM

Nearly two-thirds of insurance executives believe that most small businesses won’t offer their employees health coverage when President Obama’s health care law is fully in effect five years from now.

That’s how 61 percent of attendees at America’s Health Insurance Plans’ annual summit responded to a survey asking them how they expect the health care overhaul to change the future of insurance and how Americans obtain it.

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Unlike with large companies, the 2010 law doesn’t require small employers to pay a penalty if they don’t offer affordable coverage to their workers.

But aiming to maintain the current structure of employer-sponsored coverage, the law does provides small businesses with several incentives. They can qualify for tax credits to offset the costs of the insurance and they can shop for plans on new insurance “exchanges.”

Despite the incentives, no one knows exactly how many small businesses will decide to offer coverage themselves and how many will opt instead to send their employees to purchase their own plans on the exchanges.

The insurance executives also agreed overwhelmingly that the future for health insurance doesn’t look bright under the health care law, currently under review by the Supreme Court with a ruling expected next week.

While 4 percent said the country is on the right track, more than 40 percent said something has to “fundamentally change” and 40 percent said the current course “isn’t sustainable over the long term.”