One may speculate that a major part of what propelled president-elect Donald Trump to victory was his campaign promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But even with Trump on his way to the White House and a GOP-dominated Congress, the future of this law is still shrouded in as much uncertainty as it found itself when it was drafted.
Nonetheless, many analysts say that while it may be difficult for critics to fully repeal the law, it might be plausible to eliminate certain provisions such as the individual and employer mandates. The latter was the primary concern among employers about a week after the election, according to a recent survey by Aon.
Out of 800 employers surveyed, nearly half (48%) cited the employer mandate as the top health care concern.
"Not surprisingly, there is heightened interest in the fate of the employer mandate, which currently places significant reporting obligations on employers, including how they report coverage, track service, and determine value and affordability," explains J.D. Piro, national practice leader of Aon's Health and Benefits Legal practice. "But it's important to realize that in the short term, these mandates—and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting obligations and penalties—remain in effect."
The survey showed that other areas of concern include prescription drug costs (17%), excise tax (15%), tax exclusion limitations on employer-sponsored health care (10%), paid leave laws (8%), and employee wellness programs (2%).
The employer mandate in particular requires businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance that is affordable and provides minimum value to at least 95% of their full-time employees and dependents up to age 26, or pay fines. That provision has caused several employers to look at new ways to deal with rising health benefit costs.
However, any change to the ACA or its full repeal, if possible, would take time. It’s important for plan sponsors and employers to be aware that reporting and compliance obligations for 2017 still apply.