The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been one of the most disputed (and largest) sets of regulations set forth by the government in recent history. With a new President taking office this week, we are certain there will be major changes to the health care law, but nobody really knows which parts of the ACA will stay, and which pieces of legislation will be repealed.
Here are several issues that could impact you as we look ahead:
- Allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines: Interstate competition would help keep premiums in check. But health insurance is a local and
regional service, and out-of-state insurers aren’t likely to have networks of hospitals and doctors beyond their territory. Many state regulators
fear an end run against consumer protections. Health insurance is regulated by states, and each state sets its own rules for health plans. Republicans
have long favored the idea of selling insurance across state lines on the premise that this could lower prices. Opponents contend it would deteriorate
the quality of health plans because insurance companies might choose to locate in the states with the weakest coverage requirements. While we cannot
predict how this would play out if passed, policies being sold across state lines is a very real possibility.
- Limiting tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance: Limiting federal tax breaks for the most generous employer plans would act as a brake on health care spending. For 2017, small businesses are getting a bigger deduction for equipment purchases, and those that aren't required to provide health insurance will have an option to help staffers pay for coverage. While the incoming administration has said they would like to see businesses thrive and take care of their employees, they have also discussed a simplification of the corporate tax code. We will be keeping a close eye on this issue as well.
- Employer Mandate could be repealed: As part of the existing law, employers with at least 50 workers are required to provide affordable insurance to their employees who work more than 30 hours a week. People who work at these businesses and log between 30 and 40 hours a week may no longer have coverage; employers could opt to offer health care only to those working full-time, at 40 hours or more. That would leave many part-time workers uninsured.
- Pre-existing conditions rule: Insurers can't deny people with pre-existing conditions coverage, can't limit coverage, and can't charge them more. It's a big change from the pre-Obamacare era, when insurers could deny coverage to people with medical histories that include diabetes, high blood pressure, or even pregnancy. We could see more of a "continuous coverage" policy where a person with a pre-existing condition would need to avoid having any gap in insurance coverage in order to avoid paying more for insurance or being denied outright. So if you lose your job and your health coverage, insurers would be able to deny you coverage. But if you never have a gap, then you can't be discriminated against. But, it is our feeling that this particular piece of the ACA will remain in effect.
Businesses of all sizes will be affected by changes to the ACA. Whether much of it is scrapped completely, or much of it remains, we are all sitting right where we were in 2010; a time of complete uncertainty about our health care laws. Now, more than ever it is important to have the right benefits partner to help you navigate these uncertain times. With the possibility of yet another massive legislative overhaul looming, having the right strategy to protect your business and employees is critical to your long term success.
Since 1929 AWANE has provided stability for our members during all economic times. We have stayed ahead of the curve, and continue expanding our employee benefits programs at a time many are reducing them.
Contact us to learn more about how AWANE can help your business stay strong and well-prepared for the future.