For the last seven years, employers have been working to understand and implement the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Businesses have poured an unfathomable number of hours into complying with a complex law dealing with a topic that was already overly complex.
Ready to do that again?
The results of the 2016 national election made it clear that big changes were coming. Republicans had campaigned on the promise of making big changes to the Democrat-backed Affordable Care Act.
In May, Republicans in Congress took the first step in that direction by passing their American Health Care Act through the House of Representatives.
Most of the headlines about the bill deal with how the legislation impacts people who purchase their insurance through health care exchanges.
However, the most common way for people to get health insurance is through their employers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 49 percent of Americans were insured through their jobs in 2015, the most recent year the data was published. In Missouri, 56 percent of the state’s residents were covered by employer plans.
While the public debate will likely continue to focus on how the American Health Care Act will impact people who don’t have employer health insurance, arguably the bill’s changes to employer plans could affect many more people.
For employers, the clearest change in the House-passed bill is to eliminate the current requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance. This also triggered new IRS paperwork that businesses had to file. There were also penalties for employers who met the 50 employee threshold but chose not to offer insurance.
Should the House draft of the American Health Care Act become law, all of these current provisions would be eliminated.
The bill could also bring changes to the specific benefits included in employer health plans. The law today requires that insurance plans include prescription drug coverage, mental health care and maternal care.
The American Health Care Act would give states the ability to apply for a waiver and have fewer essential health care benefits. If Missouri went this route, employers might be able to offer cheaper health plans with more limited benefits.
While these would constitute big changes for businesses, there are still months of discussions coming on this topic. The bill is likely to see many revisions as it moves through the process.
If you want to chat about how this could impact your business and what you should be doing to prepare, don’t hesitate to give me a call.
Kat Cunningham is president of Moresource Inc. Contact Moresource at 573-443-1234.