Employers split on impact of ACA repeal

After less than a month at the helm, President Donald Trump and his administration already have created uncertainty for employers on everything from the fiduciary rule to visa programs. As the Trump White House shifts its focus to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, employers aren’t expecting things to get any clearer, new data finds.

LIMRA, a worldwide association of insurance and financial services companies, found in a December 2016 survey of 1,400 companies that employers are unsure how much of the ACA will be repealed or replaced, and what the consequences will be for workplace benefits.

Overall, 67% of employers expect that some parts of the ACA will be repealed, 17% expect a full repeal and 9% predict the law will not be repealed.

Nearly four in 10 employers (39%) say ACA repeal would not affect their decisions about medical plan design, while 34% say repeal would make them more likely to change their medical plans.

Overall, 43% of employers say repeal would have a moderate to significant impact on decisions about their overall benefits packages, according to the survey. Forty-eight percent of employers, on the other hand, say repeal would have a minor or little to no impact.

See more: What’s next for ACA repeal and replace?

“When we asked these questions, everything was very up in the air,” says Kimberly Landry, senior research analyst at LIMRA. “No one knew what would happen or what the plan would look like. I think it stands to reason that something will be changed, whether or not all the campaign promises will be followed through.”

While the future of the ACA is uncertain, the companies that predicted an impact on benefits decisions have a few things in common: they’re likely to be large companies, located in the South, in business for less than 10 years, with more part-time employees, according to the survey.

Landry compares the repeal-and-replace uncertainty to employer reactions once the ACA was passed in 2010.

She says employers had a lot of concern then but took a wait-and-see stance.

“That meant they were spending a lot less time looking at their benefits package,” Landry says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw that happen again.”

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