During his campaign, President Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So far, the law (ACA) still stands. Opinion on the healthcare legislation has been split since its inception, and even its biggest fans note problems, including skyrocketing premiums for some consumers. But under threat of repeal, the ACA has become more popular.
In April of this year, for the first time, Gallup reported that a majority of respondents were in favor of the ACA: 55 percent of Americans approved of the law and 30 percent wanted to repeal it. Still, efforts are being made to move the American Health Care Act (AHCA) forward into law, and dismantle ACA. The question is, how might ACA repeal affect consumers … even those who get their health insurance through work?
The insurance brokerage and advising company Willis Towers Watson recently conducted a survey to learn how employers might respond if the ACA is repealed. They found that, even if they’re not required to do so by law, many employers are likely to keep some of the law’s provisions in place.
“Employers are more likely to retain some of the popular ACA benefit provisions because of their positive impact on employee engagement and the potential for changes to be viewed negatively in the context of overall rewards,” Julie Stone of Willis Towers Watson was quoted as saying in the press release about the survey. “As we see an increased focus on employee productivity, employers will be careful about the implications of change, not just from a dollars and cents perspective, but in terms of employee perceptions.”
Employers may keep some ACA provisions because of their positive effect on employee engagement.
Here is a breakdown of some of the specifics of the survey results:
- This survey of 666 U.S. employers found that employers are more than three times more likely to keep benefits in place than they are to reinstitute lifetime dollar limits — 50 percent versus 15 percent.
- If contraceptive care were to be repealed, employers are likely to maintain coverage at that level than they are to reduce coverage — 59 percent versus 11 percent.
- More than twice the number of employers would maintain the age 26 dependent coverage rule if it were to be repealed instead of lowering it — 48 percent versus 22 percent.
- If limits were placed on the dollar amount of employer-sponsored premiums that are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes, just 16 percent of employers are “very likely” to make changes and 31 percent are “somewhat likely” to make changes.
- Finally, if the employer mandate is repealed, only 6 percent of employers said they are “very likely” to make changes to their current healthcare strategy and 13 percent said they are “somewhat likely.”
“Employers are confident they’ll be providing health care for the near future and are hesitant to commit to changes until they see the big picture,” Stone said in the press release. “Whatever provisions a new law might include, most employers will stay on their current path to build a high-performing health care program. Improving plan design value and creating program efficiencies will remain core components of an effective long-term health care strategy.”
Of course, relying on the good will of employers isn’t the optimal solution. Ideally, healthcare is something that is accessible and affordable for all Americans. Still, it’s interesting to note how employers report they might respond in the event the ACA is repealed. Whether or not they’ll follow through if and when changes occur remains to be seen.
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