The year has been off to a fast and furious start with the new administration in Washington. The President and Republican leaders in Congress are working hard to formulate a plan to “repeal and replace” PPACA (Obamacare). As my father once told my brothers and me after we put a baseball through a large picture window, “it is much easier to break the glass than replace it.” The same will certainly hold true for Obamacare.
Anyone paying attention to the news can see there is keen interest in what will happen to health insurance under the new administration. And we have been fielding a lot of concerned calls from EMCCC members.
Despite its many challenges, including vastly higher premiums, higher out of pocket costs and less choice, the Affordable Care Act gave access to millions of Americans who had previously been uninsured. Without question, as the raucous town hall events have shown, people that now have insurance want to keep it and are understandably concerned about what potential changes will mean to them and their families.
So what is going to happen? Historically, Republicans have never agreed on how to approach healthcare. And coming to a strong consensus will be required for any major changes, given the stated opposition of Democrats on the hill. Despite years of campaign rhetoric, there are many elements of the ACA that everyone likes (no pre-existing conditions, coverage for kids up to age 26, limits on insurance company profits, etc.). So the law will not actually be completely repealed. That ship sailed once the program was fully implemented.
Look for many changes to the program, once Republicans come to grasp with the understanding that they will not agree on a full replacement. While there is much angst about what will happen (and understandably so), major changes are unlikely until 2019. Insurance companies are already working on their filings for the 2018 plan year and any significant changes will take time to implement.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is that very few people in Washington understand how insurance actually works. There are many proposals that sound good on the political stump but that could dramatically, adversely affect the insurance markets. For example, if there is a repeal of the “mandate” (more like a suggestion given the historic lack of teeth of the “mandate”) with no guidance of how insurance companies can reduce risk, there could be some states left with no insurance company willing to write individual coverage.
Thankfully the Congressional leadership appears to understand that elements of the ACA cannot be repealed without a plan to move forward.
The upcoming changes will undoubtedly affect both individuals and employers (for better or worse depending on one’s situation). We are following all of the developments on a daily basis. If you are interested in staying on top of the changes to come, please send me an email and we will add you to email alerts and newsletters.
The EMCCC Insurance Program, powered by iSolutions, is here to assist EMCCC members with all of their health care, employee benefits, insurance and HR needs. We are here to help you keep benefits affordable, stay compliant and prepare for the changes and challenges ahead. We look forward to seeing you at upcoming EMCCC events!
By Thomas Cox, EMCCC Insurance Program / iSolutions Insurance Advisors.