Employers, Health Plans Stand Pat During ACA Repeal Tumult
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may or may not implode. The ACA may or may not be repealed. The 2010 health care reform law may or may not be replaced with another law. Any, some or all of that may or may not happen tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.
What is certain is the commitment of employers to provide health benefits to workers and of health plans to offer health benefits to individuals over state and federal health insurance exchanges.
That’s the takeaway from three recent surveys that find most employers and health plans are staying the course despite the vitriol flowing out of Washington over the future of the ACA.
The latest survey, released this week by Willis Towers Watson, the New York-based benefits consulting firm, found that most of the 666 U.S. employers polled intend to keep specific health benefit provisions in their employee health plans regardless of whether the same provisions are no longer required by a replacement ACA law. For example, 50 percent of the surveyed employers said they would continue to provide unlimited lifetime dollar limits versus 15 percent that said they would reinstitute lifetime dollar limits. Further:
- 59 percent would continue to cover 100 percent of contraceptive care versus 11 percent that said they would reduce it
- 48 percent would continue to allow dependent coverage up to 26 years of age versus 22 percent that said they would lower the age limit
Only 6 percent of the respondents said they are “very likely” to make broad changes in health coverage if the ACA’s employer mandate is repealed. Another 13 percent said that is “somewhat likely.”
A similar unflinching attitude by employers was detected by a survey of 483 companies conducted by Friedman, the New York-based accounting firm. Some 58 percent of the respondents said they would continue to offer the same level of health benefits even if the employer mandate was repealed. Twenty percent said they would increase benefits if the mandate
went away. Only five companies said they would dump their health plans if the mandate disappeared.
Finally, 96 percent of carriers now selling individual health plans over ACA state and federal health insurance exchanges said they intend to do so again in 2018. That’s according to a survey of 24 carriers by Oliver Wyman, the New York-based management consulting firm. Of those intending to stick around, 75 percent said they have no plans to change their geographic market, and 71 percent said they have no plans to change their health plan offerings.
However, 25 percent of the surveyed carriers said they intend to raise their premiums by more than 20 percent in 2018. Half said they intend to raise their premiums by 10 to 20 percent. And 25 percent said their premium hikes next year will be less than 10 percent.