Tag Archives: Cadillac Tax

AHCA Update Outlines House Legislature Provisions

In May, the House recently passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill is now in the Senate. It is believed that changes will be made or the Senate will draft their own version of the bill.

Regardless, because the bill is being considered under a fiscal 2017 budget resolution it must comply with the Byrd Rule, meaning it would likely need to be signed into law by the end of September. But first, it will need to head back to the House for approval if modified in any way. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform to Travel Down One of Three Paths

Talk about the “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been circulating throughout the industry and in the media for months now.  Repeal and replace are actually two very different concepts in terms of affecting different aspects of the ACA. There’s also a third possibility that would be synonymous with “repair”. No matter the term or path, the outcomes therefore, would have vastly different consequences for every group involved – insurers, providers, hospitals, employers, etc.

Three Futures of the ACA

Although there are three paths lawmakers can take, there are many, many ways no matter which path they take, to enacting what they decide on. Meaning even once a decision is made it could be rolled out in a piecemeal approach under various administrative actions, stand-alone legislation or through state legislature moves.

Repeal Only

Looking at the first scenario this would essentially “repeal” the ACA budget-related provisions through a special budget process called reconciliation and not provide any health-reform replacement provisions. According to the Congressional Research Service paper, there are several aspects of the ACA that could be impacted by reconciliation in a repeal scenario:

  • Repeals the individual and employer mandate penalties
  • Eliminates the 40% excise tax for employer-sponsored “Cadillac Plans”
  • Repeals federal government subsidies for individuals to purchase exchange coverage
  • Repeals Medicaid expansion
  • Restores Disproportionate Share Hospital Funding

Repair

The second path lawmakers could take would be to “repair” the ACA, keeping most of it intact and making adjustments to a few of the provisions through the legislative process. ACA items that may be repealed/revised under this scenario are:

  • Repeals the employer mandate
  • Revises the individual mandate through a replacement option, such as a continuous coverage mechanism
  • Expands health savings account usage
  • Funds high-risk pools
  • Expands Medicaid, giving state more flexibility in plan design
  • Widens age-rate bands, increasing higher and lower rating flexibility

Replace

Lastly, the ACA can be “replaced” by one of several current proposals being considered by lawmakers. There is widespread concern that repealing the ACA without providing any replacement plan could cause destabilization in the markets, particularly in the individual market. Plans vary to the degree of addressing the following efforts:

  • Repeals individual mandate
  • Replaces income-based tax credits with age-based tax credits
  • Funds high-risk pools
  • Transforms Medicaid into block grants
  • Restores Disproportionate Share Hospital Funding

Conclusion

The health industry and employers need to consider the above scenarios and prepare their businesses accordingly. Companies will need to be flexible and resilient as the market undergoes future changes.  The evolving landscape will create a new healthcare environment for everyone.

Source: PwC Health Research Institute and Strategy&.  Health Reform 2.0: A guide to developing resilience amid an uncertain future for the Affordable Care Act.  April 2017.

Webcast Recap: Healthcare Benefits Trends to Watch in 2017

The only constant in the healthcare benefits environment is change. As 2017 marks a “changing of the guard” in the political world, a year in which technology is improving, and a year in which you will need to compete aggressively for the best talent; your organization must be able to adapt, evolve, and provide benefits that meet your employees’ unique needs.

In Wednesday’s article, we took a deeper look at the challenges and opportunities that other employer groups are facing in offering healthcare benefits as we looked into the results of our 2017 Healthcare Benefits Trends Benchmark Study, which was given to all attendees of our webcast and provided many insights from nearly 300 benefits professionals at organizations of all sizes.

Trends and Talking Points: 2017 Healthcare Benefits to Watch Webcast

The Healthcare Benefits Trends to Watch in 2017 Webcast brought together three of the leading voices in the community to present their insights on our survey, as well as offering strategies and predictions for the year ahead.

Featuring Tiffany Wirth, Executive Director of the Healthcare Trends Institute and Vice President of Marketing at WEX Health, Sander Domaszewicz, Principal and Senior Consultant at Mercer, and Chris Byrd, Healthcare Operations Officer at WEX Health, these leaders brought decades of combined experience in healthcare benefits, legal policy, and business strategies, condensing a lot of highly valuable information into a brief, one-hour webcast.

Engagement Driving Changes in 2017

With many employer groups already making changes to their strategies over the past few years—implementing a wellness or preventive health program, adjusting cost sharing, or focusing on defined contribution—the top concern for employers in 2017 is employee engagement.

Engaging these employees, however, does pose a challenge as nearly 40% of employees had concerns about benefit communication and education and only 36% felt that benefit cost information was clearly presented, according to our consumer survey completed in Fall 2016.

Five Top Benefits Communication Methods

With engagement being its own issue, employers need to look at the way they communicate. While email may be right for some, other employees have other preferences, with a notable discrepancy between employer methods and employee needs:

Employer Communication Methods Employee Communication Preferences
Email: 77.1% Website: 54.4%
Meetings with HR/Benefits: 51.4% Printed Factsheets: 47.4%
Print: 49.1% Live Presentations: 38.6%
Intranet: 48.6 Email: 38.6%
Meetings with Advisors: 41.1% Videos: 23.7

 

Employers feel confident in their ability to educate employees, rating themselves at a 7.2 out of 10, roughly in line with employees rating their employers at 69% in the consumer survey.

Cadillac Tax Not Changing Many Minds

Even as this survey was completed during the election season, many employers are still in a holding pattern with respect to the Cadillac Tax. As it had already been delayed once from 2018 to 2020, respondents may have expected the threat of the tax to be delayed again, as fewer than 6% of employers have made aggressive changes to prepare, and a vast majority were waiting for definitive guidance:

  • 6% of Employers haven’t taken any actions
  • 7% are unsure what they need to do
  • 7% were not affected

Some Things Change, Others Stay the Same

As much as there have been changes in the way employers look at benefits, many things have remained steady:

  • Dental, Family Coverage, and Vision were the most commonly offered benefits.
  • Three Quarters of Employers in the last two years believe that benefits offerings are critical to their recruitment and retention.
  • In this and last year’s report, nearly 90% are still yet to make changes for the Cadillac Tax

Much, Much More: Healthcare Benefits Trends to Watch in 2017

If all of the information above came from the first ten minutes of the webcast, imagine what you can learn from the remaining 50 minutes.

The entire Healthcare Benefits Trends to Watch in 2017 features proprietary research into health plans, costs, adoption rates, and more from Mercer, presented by Sander Domaszewicz, Principal and Senior Consultant, and an in-depth look at the legal and regulatory outlook under Trump, the importance of the CURES Act passed last year, and the repeal and replace/revise and repair future for the Accordable Care Act, presented by Chris Byrd of WEX Health.

Learn more about what you can expect and how you can prepare in 2017 by watching the entire Healthcare Benefits Trends to Watch Webcast.