The Obamacare Waiting Game

December 9, 2016 | Financial Forecast: What lies ahead for one of Iowa's leading industries Michael Teachout, Focus OneSource,

The Affordable Care Act is dead. Long live the Affordable Care Act. The people have spoken and elections have consequences, which means that President-elect Donald Trump will act on his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. That sounds easy, but do not expect any grand changes anytime soon. Election cycles have a way of slowing the pace of change, just like it has taken the current administration six-plus years to implement the ACA and it’s still not complete.

Here are five things to consider in the meantime:

  1. Don’t expect any changes to the ACA in 2017. Businesses need to be prepared to meet the compliance and reporting requirements the current law contains. Continue business as usual.
  2. Invest in employees’ health and well-being. Regardless of what changes are made to the ACA, the cost of health care (premiums, deductibles, co-pays and prescriptions) is still expected to outpace general inflation and therefore will continue to be a major concern. Maintaining good health is always the best medicine to reduce health care costs.
  3. Become a student of the ACA or whatever it morphs into. The cost of employee group health insurance is a business’ second- or third-largest annual expense. Companies should work with and challenge their trusted advisers to help understand what the options are and develop a strategy to implement.
  4. Research indicates many popular parts of the ACA will remain intact. Pre-existing condition limitations or termination of health insurance when one becomes sick and allowing children to stay on their parents plan won’t go away. It’s difficult to not require individuals to have health insurance and keep these popular parts of the ACA intact.
  5. Proactively and even handily communicate with employees when the changes to the ACA and their impact become known. There are many benefits the ACA provided businesses and their employees that won’t be fully realized until they are changed or eliminated. Remember, half of the population voted the other direction.

There are a lot of unknown changes likely to give employers, employees and individuals much anxiety as the process of repeal and replace moves forward. These changes are magnified by the fact that health insurance and heath care are such critical and personal elements of our lives. Give them the attention they deserve. Now is the perfect time to be involved to help make health insurance and health care better.