For employers, last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling clears up the legal uncertainty that had surrounded the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and affected everyone's ability to move forward with certainty. Employers that sponsor health plans can continue to implement the law's provisions required in the next couple years.
These provisions include providing employees a government-mandated summary of their benefits and coverage, reporting the value of health benefits on employees' W-2 forms, automatically enrolling employees in a default health plan if they do not choose one, and covering all employees who work at least 30 or more hours a week. The ruling also means that employers must continue the plan benefit changes and plan rules that they had already implemented, including extending coverage to adult children to age 26 and mandatory independent review of coverage denials.
With predictability, we can all refocus on finding solutions to the challenges not really dealt with in the law, including the need to control costs, the need to eliminate waste and overuse, and the need to use system and business process re-engineering to improve productivity in the health system. We can also work together on payment and delivery system reform.
The National Business Group on Health and employers will continue to work with the regulatory agencies to avoid unintended consequences of the provisions of the law and to ensure the flexibility required to accommodate a multitude of differences among employer plans. Flexibility will be particularly important as employers assess and adjust their benefit plans to ensure that they comply with the ACA's requirements for the employer mandate and the looming excise “Cadillac tax.”