Four Things Employers Should Do Amid Healthcare Turmoil

To quote a Politico article, “We won't believe the GOP repeal effort is dead until we see the body.”  After all, we thought the House bill was dead and they came back and passed it.  In the meantime, the news is all reform, all the time. Certainly pay attention to the latest happenings, but remember -- nothing changes until we get a law. So far, we’ve seen nothing but failed efforts and a lot of grandstanding. Here’s my to-do list to help employers stay focused.

Continue to comply with the ACA. It is still the law of the land. Don’t forget about complying with the offer of coverage, minimum value and affordability rules and make sure you’re using the revised Summary of Benefits & Coverage template for open enrollments after April 1, 2017. Employers’ biggest administrative concern is the reporting requirement. That message has been delivered and heard “loud and clear” at the Department of Treasury/IRS. Employer advocacy groups continue to push for  simplified reporting.

Dust off, or update, your excise tax projection. Currently the dreaded tax is delayed until 2020 -- which is not that far away. While groups like “The Alliance to Fight the Forty” continue to work hard to get the tax repealed, it is still on the books. Although there had been bi-partisan support for the repeal, the proposed bills have further delayed implementation rather than repeal. This is something to keep an eye on because the clock is ticking.

Consider adding an HSA option if you don’t have one. There are a lot of initiatives underway to soften some of the IRS requirements for HSA-eligible plans. Most recently, an Executive Order has been drafted (not yet signed by the President) that would allow coverage for treatment of chronic conditions before meeting the deductible. In addition, employers have been lobbying for visits to work-site clinics similarly to be covered before the deductible is met. These looser rules would make enrolling in an HSA-eligible plans an easier decision for more employees. And if -- despite our best efforts – there are changes to the favorable tax treatment of employer-sponsored insurance, these types of plans may become the best option.

Let your voice be heard in Washington. Lawmakers respond the best to their constituents. Call, write, email your Congressman and Senator. If you have a Washington representative that lobbies on behalf of your company, be sure they know your view on what is being considered -- or isn’t being considered but should be. Become active with employer advocacy groups in Washington such as the American Benefits Council, ERISA Industry Committee, National Business Group on Health, SHRM, and US Chamber of Commerce, to name a few. Send us an email if you need help navigating how to get involved.

MMC and Mercer colleagues are on the Hill every day and we support several of the employer advocacy groups mentioned above. We’ll keep you informed of important developments while we all try to stay focused on our “day jobs” -- making sure our employees and their families have the health coverage they need and value.

Tracy Watts
by Tracy Watts

Senior Partner, National Leader for U.S. Health Policy

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