After a tumultuous midterm election season, the results are in. Healthcare (mainly protections around pre-existing conditions) seem to have been a top issue among many voters this election, and the results seem to speak to the ACA’s growing popularity in recent years, strengthening the position of the Affordable Care Act:
- With Democrats in control of the House, Republicans will be unable to move forward with any lingering plans for repeal.
- A divided Congress could mean that any changes on the federal level may take a long time or not happen at all; and most changes may unfold on the state level. Democrats are expected to focus their healthcare agenda on the much-needed fixes to the ACA and prescription drug reform rather than any fundamental changes that would face steep hurdles in the Republican-controlled Senate and a certain veto by President Trump.
What does this mean for US Employers?
Stay the course. Unlike the individual mandate that will stop being enforced as of January 1, 2019, the Employer Mandate is still in force and there are no signs of that changing. Therefore, ALL the compliance rules still apply.
Nearing year-end and 2018 tax reporting, this would be a good time to run through the specifics of the employer mandate on who needs to comply, how and when to comply, and what the repercussions are if you don’t comply – read our comprehensive blog on that
- Provide affordable coverage that meets minimum value to all full-time, eligible employees.
- Actively manage employee eligibility for the entire calendar year.
- Timely file and furnish accurate and complete 1094-C and 1095-C forms.
Make sure you have the systems and processes in place to do all this accurately and efficiently –
What changes can we hope for?
That is the million dollar question – some possibilities (but don’t hold us to that – call us naive):
Fully repealing the Cadillac Tax
The Cadillac Tax, set to take effect in 2022 under delays signed into law in December 2015 and January 2018, calls for a 40% excise tax on the value of coverage over specified thresholds. This unpopular tax on high cost health coverage had already been pushed out – maybe bi-partisan support will get it repealed once and for all. One can hope.
Repealing the Health Insurance Tax
This health insurance “provider fee” is tax levied on the health insurers based on the premiums they collect – this cost would most likely be passed on to consumers. It was suspended for 2017, came back for 2018 and is now suspended again for 2019 – good news for employers that purchase insurance coverage since it will most likely mitigate insurance premium increases for 2019 renewals.
Some relief for employer reporting
There may be at least a softening of the ACA employer mandate – for example, making the reporting easier for employers by simplifying it. This won’t happen quickly but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
This would all be wonderful but again, don’t get your hopes up too high. Keep an eye on developments in 2019 –