Five Things for Employers to Keep in Mind with Health Reform Uncertainty

The sudden collapse of the GOP’s efforts to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had many place the issue on the back burner. That kettle is about to boil over though and healthcare uncertainty is at an all-time high.

With this year approaching its last few months that means the 2018 benefits offering period is just around the corner and it’s time for employers to learn how to appropriately handle the uncertainty.

1. Understand Where the IRS Stands

One of the biggest uncertainties with the IRS is whether or not they will enforce the law at its current status. That is, companies with employees that work over 30 hours per week are required to be offered health insurance and those who opt out must pay a tax. It has been reported that the IRS has yet to send any notices to employers about tax bills, possibly due to the technical issues of the calculations. Despite the vagueness of what the IRS will do in the healthcare’s current state, it’s best to continue filing all necessary ACA-related paperwork until told otherwise by the government.

2. Recognize Part-Timers’ Dilemma and Expectations

Currently, some part-time employees have subsidies placed by the ACA that’s used for coverage purchases on health exchanges. The administration has been seeking to reduce or even completely remove those subsidies. With that in mind, realize that those part-timers will want some form of alternate coverage at a discounted rate to make up for what is no longer available to them.

3. Provide Your Employees with Options

Another aspect of the ACA that administration has been aiming to eliminate is the employer mandate. This requires employers with over 50 employees to offer full-time employees health insurance. If you are an employer that just started offering benefits due the ACA’s employer mandate you may want to consider keeping your plan in place to lessen the shock to your employees, some ways to do so while keeping costs down could be:

  •   Provide a variety of plans instead of a “one-size” option
  •   Offer coverage to select employees
  •   Shift to a less generous plan 

4. Retain Your Employees

So far, a lot of the replacement bills presented thus far have had limited benefits and higher deductibles when compared to current law. This could cause many employees to quickly switch to companies who offer greater benefits despite the change. In order to avoid this and retain valuable employees, an employer could simply choose not to raise the deductibles in their plan. Another value-added solution employers could make is offering a health-savings account to their employees and make contributions to that account so they have a means to cover higher medical expenses.

5. Don’t be Naive

Overall, the best thing an employer can do with healthcare uncertainty is to be aware of the situation at its entirety. Don’t let that kettle boil over. Keeping up-to-date on the current status of the reform is the first step for employers to stay on top and plan accordingly during this stressful time of uncertainty.

Contact me if you have any questions and concerns during this unclear time.

Brad Knerr

bknerr@vanbeurden.com

Sales Associate | Los Osos