Can employers find a way out?

If you wonder why the Affordable Care Act legislation is such a mass of confusing and contradictory language and regulations, you might want to look at a comment by Robert Kocher, a former health advisor to the White House who helped shepherd the law.  “We wouldn’t have anticipated that there would be employer demand for these types of band-aid plans in 2014.”   “Our expectation was that employers would offer high quality insurance”  (Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2013).

 

The band-aid plans that Robert Kocher is referring to are limited (skinny) benefit plans that employers have found may offer compliant coverage and avoid some Affordable Care Act penalties.  This type of skinny benefit plan covers preventive care, a limited number of doctor’s visits and perhaps generic drugs.  Things such as surgery, hospital stays or prenatal care would not be covered.

 

The fact that Robert Kocher is surprised that employers would be demanding these type of “skinny band-aid” plans should tell you a lot about how the health care reform law was developed.  Employers utilizing lower paid employees already offer minimal benefit plans.  Robert Kocher and the administration did not “expect” employers would offer higher benefit plans; they thought they could force employers into making an offer of a higher benefit plan to employees.

 

It is important to note the reference to “band-aid plans” as it should be expected that the consortium of IRS, DOL and HHS will find a way to close this type of plan as it clearly jeopardizes the financial integrity and intention of the law in general.

 

We can only hope, and lobby for, a saner approach than “Our expectation was…”  In some circles, that would be called wishful thinking, or just guessing.

 

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