As we begin a new year, trying to predict the changes that affect the benefits industry is typically a roll of the dice. With a change in the White House, this year will be a year of uncertain change for the Affordable Care Act. While I am hopeful that we let go of the old things within the Act that do not work, I am also wishing that we are able to facilitate a smooth transition to whatever replaces it. While “wishing”, I do have a “wish list” of my own for the industry for 2017, I welcome you comments-
First and foremost, given that employers provide benefits and in most cases pay for the majority of the cost of those benefits for the employee for close to half of all Americans, it would be really helpful if the replacement strategy could come early and concisely. Early so that employers could have direction in advance and actually have the opportunity to drive the change in the marketplace. Concise, in the opposite of what ACA is and has been. Please do not over-complicate the process, it does not have to read like an IRS publication.
Repeal the Cadillac Tax- it has never made sense to tax benefits that are “rich” in their offering. If a company happens to be in a position where they can offer better benefits than their peers, let them. Additionally the law has not yet made provision to take into consideration how to account for the differences in cost due to demographics, the cost in Dallas Texas for an employee may be higher than the cost for an employee in say, Greenville Mississippi. How are they going to level the field if my company has all employees over the age of 60 while the company next door has all employees aged 25?
IF the government feels they must keep employer reporting requirements, simplify them!
Offer tax deductions to all with health insurance-expand HSA accounts as well-
Stop the reduction , or worse yet, end of commissions paid to agents, brokers in the insurance industry. With the reduction in the individual market in particular, most agents have reluctantly removed themselves from serving this segment while at the same time it has become a segment that is needing expertise now more than ever.
Bring back the state run “high risk” pools. Combined with the “county” hospitals we in Texas had a system where you could purchase insurance even with a “pre-existing” condition for affordable costs. The county hospitals were not allowed to turn people away who needed care and ours in Dallas/Ft. Worth are some of the best in the country-
As a consultant to many, having worked in the benefits industry, tied to a sister company offering HR, payroll, worker’s compensation, and compliance solutions, and a business owner myself, I am making a commitment to use this blog as a resource in 2017. I am hopeful that our clients, our prospects, and our friends will find it useful this year. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to send us an email. Also, let others who might be interested in our site, know about us!
Happy New Year!
Sharon N. McReynolds