President Trump signed an executive order to provide “Obamacare relief” from the Affordable Care Act, relaxing rules regarding enrollment in short-term health insurance and health care coverage offered by small businesses. Among the mandates he issued is to “consider proposing regulations or revising guidance” on options for plans that small businesses may offer and sell—including “association health plans” and low-cost, short-term insurance.
A recent survey by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies showed that 30 percent of Americans keyed into the health care coverage debate fear the elimination of the mandate for employers to offer health care coverage. It was one of their three biggest fears, behind the loss of coverage for pre-existing conditions (42 percent) and reduced Medicare coverage for seniors (31 percent).
Do their fears align with the mandate? Association health plans may present a cheaper option for health care coverage to employees that are young and healthy. However, the trade-offs are sharply-reduced consumer protections and industry scrutiny that are part and parcel of plans sold on individual or small-group markets.
Likewise, short-term plans, while cheaper than those on the marketplace, have their downside. They don’t always provide coverage for preexisting conditions, exclude certain types of health care coverage such as prescription drugs, and impose dollar limits for coverage while increasing out-of-pocket spending caps. Trump’s executive order may extend the coverage period of short-term plans from three months to just under a year.
Compounding the turmoil are Trump’s new rules that open the way for companies with religious or moral objections about contraception, giving them cover to cease coverage of birth control on the health plans they offer their employees. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, calls these new exemptions “sweeping.” Although any employer pulling health care coverage for contraception needs to give workers 60 days’ advance notice, there’s not much else to soften the blow or allow for appeal.
The fallout from these healthcare changes is still murky. But one thing is perfectly clear: In today’s uncertain political climate—with an administration that’s often swift to act— it’s more important than ever to hire trusted advisors that will monitor potential changes in health or tax law, explain how they may impact your small business, and help you develop a sound strategy for addressing them head-on.
That level of service, knowledge, and action is what we strive to offer at TYS LLP. Visit TYSLLP.com to reap the benefits of having a trusted, caring advisor guiding your business toward a brighter future.
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