Following President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans closely examined the key takeaways that will affect the employee benefits industry.

No. 1: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay and opponents will face a difficult, if not impossible, task to repeal it legislatively. However, the door is still open to make changes and improvements to the existing law.

No. 2: The ACA still needs many more “young invincibles” to sign up in order to keep costs low for others.

No. 3: Apprenticeship and other job training programs are going to be a major focus for the administration in 2014. Led by Vice President Biden, these efforts will work to mobilize business leaders, community colleges, mayors and governors, and labor leaders to increase funding and the number of innovative apprenticeships in America.

Without a doubt, the Affordable Care Act has had the most significant impact on the employee benefits industry in decades and even though the president’s address maintained a light focus on the issue, it will continue to affect our industry and raise questions with the public and employers for the foreseeable future. In addition, the president’s announcement of a major initiative to support apprenticeship and other job training programs has the opportunity to provide our industry with many benefits and needed resources.

Julie Stich, CEBS, is director of research for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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