Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 28

How the Affordable Healthcare Act is going to affect Berkshire

Warren Buffett:


Carol Loomis:

This question picks up, indeed, from where you were on the previous answer. It’s from John Sealme.

“I have never heard or read whether all of Berkshire’s nearly 300,000 employees are currently receiving health benefits.”

“If all employees today are not receiving benefits, has Berkshire quantified the cost of complying with the Affordable Care Act? And if so, what will be the costs be?”

“In other words, how is the Affordable Care Act going to affect Berkshire?”

Warren Buffett:

Yeah. I don’t know the answer to that.

The…I’m virtually certain that… you know, we’ve got 70-plus subsidiaries, some of which… one of which… has over 100 itself.

So, very hard to speak totally categorically. But to my knowledge, I don’t know of any units that don’t have health care benefits.

But like I say, I mean, we just bought 27 or 28 daily newspapers, some of them are very small, so I can’t really speak to every single unit.

But health care costs are a huge cost for us. We’re actually going to do… we do very few things with, as you know, on a centralized basis… but that is something where all of our companies will try to learn what’s in store for them and try to figure out some answers.

But we have not yet… we have not assessed in any way… put together… the kind of figures that that question calls for.

We spent a lot of money, obviously, I mean, to get up to the kind of numbers that are coming through on health care costs.

I see them at some of our… a few of our… individual units, as I look at their monthly reports. I will see costs rising 10 or 12 percent.

And what happens in 2014, I don’t know.

But the same thing will be happening to our competitors, and we will try to figure out what makes the most sense at that time.

And our individual managers are already working, particularly the larger units, are spending a lot of time on that.

But it’s not something we try to control out of headquarters.


Charlie Munger:

Yeah, it’s a… we really don’t want to try and control it out of headquarters. We like that kind of decision being made near the firing line.

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