Post-election, I have met with dozens of employers and the No. 1 question on their mind is: What will the new administration do to our healthcare strategy and what steps do I take to correctly position my employee benefit program?
The short answer is to stay the course. Except for those employers offering minimum essential coverage plans to avoid the employer mandate penalty, not much will happen short-term to change the employer dynamic.
Healthcare will continue to be driven through the employers. Cost pressures will continue to press forward the evolution of high-deductible plans, risk-based contracting and consumerism. The biggest challenge will be to facilitate these transitions.
My best estimate of what will change:
1) Since the employer mandate will disappear, so will minimum essential coverage plans. If they were only offered because the employer had to do so, the employers will discontinue these as soon as they can.
2) 1094/1095 reporting will stop, but it is probably too late to stop this year’s upcoming requirement. Good riddance — what a waste of time and resources.
3) The Cadillac tax will be a thing of the past. Congress will seek to pay for indigent care by limiting the individual exclusion for healthcare benefits provided by employers. This will further facilitate the shift to high-deductible plans.
4) Medicare will not change. The politics on this are a losing battle for whoever takes it on. The Democrats’ “Medi-scare” tactics will force Republicans to back off
5) Drug costs are going to come down. While pharma is a powerful lobby, this issue has too much momentum. Whether it’s reimportation or transparency laws, something is going to give.
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